Pensions  

Government defends delay of social care paper

Government defends delay of social care paper

The minister for care has defended delays to the long awaited social care paper.

In a session in Parliament yesterday (February 19) Caroline Dinenage, Member of Parliament for Gosport, claimed the government was the first to tackle the "very thorny issue" in a successive line of governments which had all failed to get to grips with it.

The paper on long-term reform of the care funding system was initially due to be published last summer, but it has since faced several delays.

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Speaking at Age UK’s Late Life conference in September, Ms Dinenage hinted "unforeseen circumstances" could delay the paper’s publication.

In December the government then pointed to Brexit as the cause for further delays

Facing questions from fellow MPs in the House of Commons Ms Dinenage confirmed the green paper would be published at the "earliest opportunity".   

She said: "There has been a failure of successive governments to get to grips with this very thorny issue of the long-term funding of adult social care.

"We are the government who have decided to tackle the issue.

"We will no longer put it in the ‘too difficult’ pile, and we will be publishing this document shortly."

Ms Dinenage said the government had taken some time to get the "big decisions" right to ensure the social care system remained sustainable in the long term, claiming she shared frustrations at the delay.

Dodging a question from Huw Merriman, MP for Bexhill and Battle, as to whether the green paper would consider Germany’s system of compulsory social care insurance, Ms Dinenage said the paper looked at a "number of different funding options".

Several solutions are said to be on the table, including a ‘Care Isa’ – a capped savings product, exempt from inheritance tax – and a 'care pension', which mixes drawdown and care insurance.

There have also been calls for a 'Social Care Premium’, effectively a new tax on people over the age of 40.

The paper follows the government's scrapping of the proposed £72,500 cap on social care in December.

Social care had been on the agenda for a number of years, with former prime minister David Cameron promising to implement a cap on the cost of care of £72,500, which was supposed to come into effect in April 2016.

But in 2015 the government pushed this back to 2020, because it would have added £6bn to public sector spending at a "time of consolidation".

rachel.addison@ft.com