A long-awaited announcement of reforms, first promised by the Prime Minister upon his election to Downing Street more than two years ago, could be made as soon as next week. Health Secretary Sajid Javid has reportedly been pushing for a national insurance increase of over one per cent, with Chancellor Rishi Sunak said to be arguing for a lower percentage.
The 2019 Conservative manifesto promised there would be no rise in national insurance, income tax or VAT.
The Government’s plan is understood to include a commitment to cap the amount an individual will ever pay in social care costs at potentially £80,000 and better protect people from having to sell their homes to foot the bill for care.
Mike Padgham, chairman of the Independent Care Group, which is the representative body for independent care providers in York and North Yorkshire, said it was “positive news” that long-promised social care reform appears to be on the way at last.
But he said any tax rise must be “only the very start” and be part of a wider system overhaul, including tackling the staffing crisis.
Mr Padgham said: “We have waited 30 years and currently have 1.5m people not getting the care they need. We wait to see what is actually announced but tackling the crippling cost of social care would be a good place to start.
“It is wrong that people currently end up selling their home to pay for the care they need.
“We have long campaigned for better funding for social care and believe that people would be prepared to pay a little more in taxation or National Insurance, or a combination of both, in return for a properly-funded, fair social care system.
“At the same time, this can only be the very start of reform and has to be a part of a root and branch overhaul of the system to make it fit for purpose.”
Mr Padgham added: “At the moment the crisis in social care staffing is at the uppermost of providers’ minds as they struggle to get enough staff to cover their shifts.
“Any reform would have to tackle the staffing issue and ensure we create a sector which is properly rewarding to those working in it. We need proper, sustainable funding, for dementia to be treated as other serious illnesses are, and funded accordingly, and for a proper pay and reward structure for social care staff. Capping care costs – however it is done – is only the beginning. A good beginning but just the start.”
Conservative former health secretary Jeremy Hunt has urged the Government to “bite the bullet” and announce a tax hike, but warned against a national insurance increase by saying it “disproportionately targets the young”.
The Times reported that five Cabinet ministers would oppose the hike to national insurance, which could be revealed next week when Parliament returns from its summer recess.
Mr Hunt, chairman of the Commons Health and Social Care Committee, said the “eye-watering” sums required are far bigger than what the Chancellor “can find down the back of a Treasury sofa”.
Caroline Abrahams, charity director at Age UK, said excitement at the prospect of action was being “tempered by some anxiety”. The charity said that in addition to a cap set at a “reasonably generous” level, funding is needed to “stabilise care services and begin the enormous job of rebuilding the care workforce”.
A Government spokeswoman said: “We are committed to bringing forward a long-term plan to reform the social care system and we will set out proposals this year.”
Support The Yorkshire Post and become a subscriber today. Your subscription will help us to continue to bring quality news to the people of Yorkshire. In return, you'll see fewer ads on site, get free access to our app and receive exclusive members-only offers. Click here to subscribe.