More than two years after Boris Johnson came to office promising that he had a plan to fix social care, there has been no action, which cannot be viewed as anything other than evidence that no firm proposals existed.
Now Mr Johnson faces the stern test of delivering on his promises, and in doing so risks both a great deal of political capital and a potential revolt within his own party.
Government briefings over the past days point to the Prime Minister being ready to break his manifesto commitment not to raise taxes or National Insurance. The dilemma he has is that there is no option but to raise taxes if the massive gulf between demand for social care and its provision is to be bridged.
This is a service beset by underfunding and staff shortages, the result of which is that some of society’s most vulnerable are simply not receiving the care they desperately need. There is also widespread public resentment at the elderly having to use life savings and sell homes to fund care until their assets have dwindled to a means-tested point.
There are no easy choices for the Government in this. Raising taxes in whatever form is never going to be popular, and risks alienating Mr Johnson’s supporters who may well take a dim view of him breaking an electoral promise. Equally, a hike in National Insurance would disproportionately impact upon low income households and go down like a led balloon with the new red wall MPs.
Set against that is the widespread acknowledgement that the social care system cannot continue as it is.
Mr Johnson will need to use all his powers of persuasion to get both the public and his own party on side with raising taxes.
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