Pensions  

Minister hints at scrapping consultation on social care

Minister hints at scrapping consultation on social care

Health secretary Matt Hancock has suggested that the heavily delayed social care green paper may be abandoned as the government is more focused on finding a solution to the problem than to discuss it further.

Speaking at NHS Providers’ annual conference yesterday (October 9), secretary of state for Health and Social Care Matt Hancock said the government is not producing a green paper that has lots of possible options but instead the focus is on finding a solution.

Mr Hancock said: “The green paper under the previous prime minister was not forthcoming and we are not currently looking at a green paper with lots of options. 

“The prime minister is keen to bring a solution rather than a set of options.”

He went on to say that Boris Johnson has been clear issues with social care were some of the “injustices he wants to tackle” but that reforms needed to be agreed with all parties.

Mr Hancock added: “[Social care reform] is best done on a cross-party basis because these things have an effect for a long period of time. 

“[The prime minister] is taking a very personal interest in it.”

When asked if social care would appear in the Queen’s speech on Monday (October 14), Mr Hancock hinted this was a possibility.

A department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “We are determined to fix the crisis in social care once and for all, so we can give everyone the dignity and security they deserve.

“We will be setting out our proposals in due course.”

The publication of the green paper was originally expected in summer 2018 but has faced several delays due to Brexit and other government issues.

In fact, Mr Hancock had previously blamed the lack of cross party consensus on social care for the delay when he said the green paper hadn't been published because the government wasn't able to find a way to get the "sort of cross party support that is hugely helpful for projects like this".

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

As part of the Centre for Policy Studies’ social care funding review, published on April 29, MP Damien Green suggested 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.

This money would come from individuals’ existing pension pots, lifetime savings or via equity withdrawal from people’s homes and would act as a top up to government funded state care.

But last month (September 23), Shadow chancellor John McDonnell said if Labour won the next election it will introduce legislation to ensure that those most in need receive free personal care, which means they will not have to pay for help with daily tasks such as getting in and out of bed, bathing and washing, and preparing meals in their own homes, and residential care.