Pensions 

Minister blames politics for social care failure

Minister blames politics for social care failure

The Health and Social Care secretary has blamed the lack of cross party consensus on social care for the almost two-year delay of the social care green paper.

Speaking at a Health and Social Care committee hearing yesterday (July 9) in Parliament, Matt Hancock said the document, which is expected to propose an array of solutions for the funding of later life care, won’t be published until a new prime minister is in place.

He explained that the green paper, first announced in December 2017, hasn’t been published because the government hasn’t been able to find a way to get the "sort of cross party support that is hugely helpful for projects like this".

He added this hadn't been helped by the nature of the "wider political debates that have been going on".

In May 2017, Theresa May was pressured to commit to setting an "absolute limit" on the amount people pay for social care after her original plans for funding social care, unveiled as part of the Conservative party general election manifesto, were dubbed "a dementia tax". 

Mr Hancock said as a result of this experience, the major parties should "try to resolve this in a way that is more collaborative".

He gave as an example the proposal presented by Conservative MP Damian Green that people should be able to purchase a care supplement, which would be similar to an annuity or insurance policy, to ensure individuals have funds for more expensive care if needed in the future.

He noted the idea "was attacked on the day by the shadow chancellor as a tax on old people".

He added: "It has proved difficult to build the cross-party consensus more broadly."

It is estimated just 12 per cent of adults aged 55 or over are currently putting aside money to pay for social care later in life.

Former prime minister David Cameron had promised 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".

In December 2017, the government confirmed the proposed cap would be scrapped and announced a future green paper instead.

In the meantime Conservative leadership candidate Jeremy Hunt unveiled a series of proposals to tackle the social care funding crisis should he become prime minister, which included a tax break for families who look after their loved ones in their own homes.

The current foreign secretary is also proposing to promote long-term saving schemes. This was similar to the idea suggested last year by the government of creating a system akin to pensions auto-enrolment, but for social care.

maria.espadinha@ft.com

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