Health and social care secretary Matt Hancock has pledged to seek an extra £3.5bn to save social care from collapse.
Acknowledging that the system is not sustainable with ‘one-year-at-a-time top-ups’, he promised to seek an extra £3.5bn in the next spending review.
Mr Hancock said that the current social care system is ‘unfair and unsustainable’, as people ‘who haven’t put money aside get their care supported’, while those who have savings cannot afford to pay for their own care.
Mr Hancock said: ‘The sign of a civilised society is how we treat the most vulnerable and our social care system is not up to scratch.’
In an interview with the Daily Mail, Mr Hancock – who announced his bid for prime minister at the end of May – also called for a state-backed insurance scheme to cover the cost of care, making it ‘a priority’ for his own campaign.
The insurance scheme – which Mr Hancock said will start as a voluntary one, as making it compulsory would be ‘too politically contentious without cross-party consensus’ – would cover lifetime care costs of around £40,000.
Mr Hancock said: ‘I’d like to see people encouraged to take it out when they get their first mortgage – that being the point where many people buy life insurance.’
Last year, Chancellor Philip Hammond announced that local authorities will receive an additional £650m funding grant for social care for 2019/20 as part of the 2018 budget, which the healthcare sector criticised as a ‘sticking plaster’ move.
‘The tragedy that is social care’
Commenting on Matt Hancock’s statements, NHS Confederation chief executive Niall Dickson said it was a shame the ‘outgoing Prime Minister failed to deliver her promise to fix the tragedy that is social care’.
He added: ‘Although we have had too many unfulfilled promises in this area, we now call on the other candidates in the race to be Prime Minister to pledge that they will make this an urgent priority for their administration.’
Other measures recently suggested to funding adult social care include Conservative Damian Green MP’s idea to mirror the state pension model to fund universal access to care.
The social care green paper, which is expected to provide solutions for how assistance for the elderly should be funded, was initially announced two years ago and has been postponed several times since then.
The Department of Health and Social Care told Healthcare Leader it cannot comment on Mr Hancock’s statement as it is ‘a political pledge’.