is slowly being eroded - or so it would seem.
Yesterday I went to see an elderly woman in a nursing home. It is something I try to do on a fairly regular basis because her younger cousin, with whom she used to live, goes every day.
They owned their small house jointly. They each paid half the bills. It was that way for years. Our social security services were told all about this when it became obvious that the older one needed full time nursing care and would need to go into a nursing home.
They are not man and wife. They are not a same-sex couple. They just happen to have lived together for many years. The older cousin took the younger one when she was just 13. The younger one feels responsible for her as a daughter might feel for a mother.
There were problems at the time the older one moved into the nursing home. It was only because of the joint names on the title and the fact that the younger cousin had a "carers' allowance" that the younger one retained the right to live in the house.
Now the law is apparently changing. Social security have advised her that the older cousin's half share of the house will be considered an "asset". That is not a problem in itself. The problem arises because when that happens the nursing home will claim it. They already take 85% of the pension and other income but now they will be able to claim this. They could insist on it being sold so that they can invest the money and charge an administration fee. It is of course simply a way of making more money despite it being wrapped in language designed to make people believe it is for the benefit of the individual in the nursing home.
That it might leave someone else homeless is irrelevant to them.
This would not happen to a married couple or a same sex couple but it can happen to parent and child and in relationships like this.
The younger cousin is distraught. The current tiny house is within walking distance of the nursing home. She can't afford to buy her cousin out. Now in her seventies, no bank would loan her the money even if she could afford to pay off a loan. It would have to be sold.
It would be snapped up by a developer who would bulldoze it, build something fancy and make a hefty profit.
It is an unintended consequence of a law designed to be "fair". The older cousin is in a parlous state of health and wouldn't understand what is going on but she senses the younger one is upset.
And, guess what, it makes me upset too.