Tory MP, Damian Green, has proposed a radical new vision for funding social care.
In a new report, the close ally of Prime Minister of Theresa May, says social care should adopt the state pension model to provide a Universal Care Entitlement.
Mr Green said: “The crisis in our social care system is one of the most pressing issues our country currently faces. It causes acute problems for the wider NHS, with 1.98 million delayed transfers in 2017/18 for those moving out of NHS care. The Conservative Party has an urgent need to show that it has ideas about vital domestic policy issues such as this.
“That why I propose a wholesale change in our approach to social care, mirroring the state pension system with the introduction of a Universal Care Entitlement and Care Supplement.
“By combining this new system with an increase in funding we will be able to tackle this most intractable of political dilemmas fairly and responsibly.”
The Tory MP also offered solutions to fix the immediate £2.75bn social care funding gap, including taxing the winter fuel allowance, diverting savings from the Spending Review and imposing a 1% National Insurance surcharge on the over 50s.
Steven Cameron, Pensions Director at Aegon, called for an “open debate” in fixing the social care funding crisis, including possible higher taxes.
“Alongside this, individuals must have a clear understanding of what they’ll be expected to pay should they need care, with an overall limit or ‘cap’ on care costs,” he said.
“There needs to be incentives to plan ahead for an event which could be 20 or more years into the future. Individuals should also be given the chance to make an additional personal contribution, for example if they want to ‘upgrade’ the standard of care home accommodation.”
George McNamara, Director of Policy at older people’s charity, Independent Age, said: “The proposed Universal Care Entitlement would need to be at a high enough level for older people to enable them to live well, not just enough to get by.
“This should mean as a minimum all older people having access to free personal care, an entitlement that is already available in Scotland and has proven to be popular, affordable and sustainable. It must also address the unmet care needs of the one million older people missing out on support as they are not eligible, according to criteria set out by government. If we are asking the public to pay more through taxation, they need to know they will get access to the care they need.”
Cllr David Williams, County Councils Network spokesman for adult social care, said: “Local taxes will continue to be part of the solution, but changes to national taxation, insurance options and mean-testing benefits should be honestly debated as potential solutions and we need the government’s green paper to genuinely tackle the difficult questions.”
Mei-Ling Huang, a Partner in the specialist Social Care team at the law firm Royds Withy King, said that, while the proposals were likely to fall well short of the funding the sector require, describing them as “testing the waters with further proposals to follow”.