England’s “shameful” social care system can be transformed with 1% extra government spending, according to the architect of Boris Johnson’s most favoured plan to reform the system.
Sir Andrew Dilnot said we need a social care system “where those who are working in the sector and those being cared for feel they’re having a good life”.
He told BBC Radio 4’s Today : “My encouragement [to the government] would be: be generous. The amounts of money we’re talking about are not huge, and the impact this has on people’s lives is massive.”
Dilnot said the three main priorities are a pay rise for social care staff, a cap on care costs for individuals and more funding for the system overall and that £10 billion extra “will take us from a system that we should all be ashamed of to a system we could be proud of”.
In 2011 Dilnot headed a government commission on funding for care and support and now, ten years later, he argues the ageing population will cost an extra £5 billion per year in social care, whatever the government does.
He said it is a “category error” to try and use the social care system to do the work of taxation or a social insurance system, and urged the government to act now to fix it by properly funding social care, recruiting extra workers, better pay and capping an individual’s contribution to care costs – by raising funds through a specific national insurance contribution. This would cost an extra £3bn to £5bn.
PM making things ‘extremely difficult’ for Sunak
The prime minister is making it “extremely difficult” for Rishi Sunak to conjure the £10 billion cost of funding social care reforms, according to the Times, who say Johnson is “blocking rises for income tax, VAT and national insurance”.
Sunak has committed to funding the wide scale social care reforms – but “only if Johnson agrees at the same time to raise taxes to pay for it”.
It is unlikely given the Conservative party’s manifesto pledge to freeze income tax, VAT and national insurance was very recently recommitted to by Johnson who pledged to “rocket boost” the manifesto promises following the Chesham and Amersham by-election defeat.
However, it has been pointed out that Johnson also made a very public declaration in his first speech as prime minister in July 2019 when he stated: “I am announcing now – on the steps of Downing Street – that we will fix the crisis in social care once and for all with a clear plan we have prepared to give every older person the dignity and security they deserve.”.
Two years later and there is still no plan, and little signs of one emerging anytime soon given a report in the Guardian that a “do or die” meeting on social care between the PM, the chancellor and the health secretary has been postponed for unknown reasons.
The meeting was due to be held today (Tuesday) and although business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said he “didn’t know that it was happening, and I didn’t know that it had been called off,” he told the Today programme a plan to properly fund social care in England remains a priority for the government.
“You’ll appreciate that we’ve had an extraordinary year in terms of the Covid response,” said Kwarteng. “It’s something that we need to act on, and we need to work out what our response to this very urgent problem is.”
Treasury plan pension raid to pay for the pandemic
Similarly urgent for the Treasury is paying for the UK’s recovery out of the pandemic with reports it is preparing plans to raid pensions.
Wealthy investors will see the amount they can build up in their pension pots – without incurring hefty charges – will be cut by from £1,073,100 to £900,000 or even £800,000, under plans being developed by Treasury officials. A report in the Times states the change will mean more people will face a 25% levy “on any additional income from their pension pot” with the charges rising to 55% “if they choose to draw down a lump sum.”
A report in the Telegraph states the Treasury “has been warned off” a pensions tax raid because it would ultimately “fail to pass Parliament without cross-party support.”