Call for cap on care costs ahead of Queen’s Speech

Jeremy Hunt (PA Wire)
9:30am, Tue 11 May 2021
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Conservative MPs have called for a cap on care costs to stop people having to sell their homes to pay for social care, ahead of the Queen’s Speech

Former Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said he hopes a cap will be announced when the Government sets out its legislative agenda on Tuesday, calling the prospect of catastrophic care costs “an incredible worry for people”.

Care groups, charities and politicians have been long calling for a plan to reform and “fix” the sector, which the Prime Minister promised in his first speech after being elected in July 2019.

The Government has said improving the adult social care system remains a priority and it will bring forward proposals later this year.

Mr Hunt told BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme: “I’m hoping to hear that we will introduce a cap on people’s care costs, because around one in 10 of us will have catastrophically high care costs.

“It’s an incredible worry for people. It’s a lottery. You don’t know – that could be you.

It really doesn’t make any sense to fund one sector properly and then to ignore the other.

“I think in a civilised society we should find a way of taking away that worry.

“I think there’s a big misconception here that this is sort of helping people with expensive houses in the South East pass on their inheritance.”

Mr Hunt also said problems in the NHS will not be able to be fixed if problems in social care are not tackled, adding: “So, it really doesn’t make any sense to fund one sector properly and then to ignore the other.”

Tory MP Damian Green also called for a cap, but said reform also needs to address the social care workforce and how society houses elderly people so they can stay in their home for longer.

People have to accept that everyone will need to pay more towards social care, he added.

He told Sky News: “The root of all this is we all agree you have to spend more money on social care, we have got a slightly threadbare system now.

“Where that money comes from is why it has proved so politically difficult over the decades.

“People have to accept we are all going to have to pay more money, how you do that is the key.”

Mr Green said he had not expected the full details of the proposals in the Queen’s Speech, but said he was frustrated at the time it is taking and is “absolutely insistent” that 2021 sees action.

Vic Rayner, chief executive of the National Care Forum, said she wanted the Government to become the “government of social care”.

She told BBC Breakfast: “It’s very difficult, it’s challenging, but what we need to make the Government understand is that social care really matters to millions of people.

“It’s a really big issue for the population and unfortunately governments up to now have not tackled this, and we really want this Government to take on the mantle and to become the government of social care.”

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said more resources are needed to address the “significant injustices” in the social care system.

Mr Hancock told BBC Breakfast: “There are a number of significant injustices in the way that social care is organised right now. One is that some people – about one in 10 – have these very, very high costs.

“It is very hard to know in advance who that is. Making sure that together as a society we can help people with those costs is important.”

Mr Hancock said the Government remained committed to long-term reform of adult social care in England but declined to say when it would publish proposals.

“This is an incredibly important area. We are committed to bringing forward reforms on social care – we are committed to that in our manifesto,” he told Sky News.

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