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Tuesday, 03 July 2018

Ex-Tory minister urges Government deliver social care 'free at the point of use'

Written by Dan O'Donoghue and Richard Wheeler

A Tory former minister has called on the Government to make social care "free at the point of use".

Mark Prisk told MPs that with health and social care being merged into one department it was "only logical that both clinical and social care be delivered free at the point of use."

Mr Prisk (pictured) said he appreciated the move would be a "major financial commitment" but said the current system was wrong.

The former communities minister, speaking in a Commons health debate, said no single tax could pay for the move but suggested council tax re-banding and introducing a social care premium on national insurance for those over 40 and over 65.

He said: "At the moment they (the public) see a lottery of disease, they see that if you get a major heart problem the NHS will pay no questions asked, but get dementia and have the need for personal care and the state will look to you and your family first before it considers whether or not it should contribute.

"People feel that's wrong and I agree with them."

On paying for the change, he said: "Council tax is one element of this, the current bands and the fact that the valuations for the most part date back, as the ministers both well understated, back to 1991 shows how overdue that reform is.

"The second element would be at a national levels because tax revenue will be need to counter balance the local council tax charges.

"That's why I strongly support the notion of a social care premium, it's sole purpose would be to transform and integrate our current health and social care systems."

Mr Prisk said one option would be to increase national insurance, saying that this would apply to "those 40 and above, and yes I mean 65 and above as well".

He added that the second option for a social care premium would be a "social insurance system as we see in Germany".

Sarah Wollaston, Conservative chairwoman of the Health and Social Care Committee, earlier said it would be helpful to have an independent body looking at the long-term funding and planning needs of the NHS and social care.

She also said: "I personally would be delighted if there was a Brexit dividend but I'm afraid I don't believe there will be.

"I think there will be a Brexit penalty.

"I think the difficulty with having people think this might all come out of a mythical fund, as I see it, in the future means you're not right at the outset levelling with people that essentially we're all going to have to pay for this.

"The challenge should really be about how we're going to distribute that fairly."

Dr Wollaston encouraged both the Labour and Tory frontbenches to commit to working together on social care funding.

Replying to the estimates day debate for the Government, Health Minister Caroline Dinenage said NHS and social care provision are "two sides of the same coin".

Highlighting what has been done to support local authorities in England, she added: "We really understand the pressures on the system and that's why at spring budget we did give councils access to £2 billion more funding.

"But we are committed to creating a sustainable system of social care in England.

"That's why as a starting point the Government gave councils access to £9.4 billion more dedicated funding for social care over three years."

Copyright (c) Press Association Ltd. 2018, All Rights Reserved. Picture (c) UK Parliament.