A longstanding Conservative MP has alarmed listeners by saying that in order to properly fund social care, he advocates an insurance system ‘for those who can afford it’.
The Conservative manifesto promised that nobody will have to sell their homes to fund their social care – but that doesn’t mean people won’t need to use wealth from homes in a “controlled amount”, said Tory MP Damian Green.
The former work and pensions minister, who was newly returned as Ashford’s MP in Thursday’s election, told LBC’s Shelagh Fogarty that the social care system should not be funded solely by general taxation.
Saying that the prime minister needs to “grasp” the “difficult nettle” of funding social care, Green added: “Every year that passes is another year where the situation gets just a bit more difficult.
“I very much hope and expect that this will be an early priority for the government to settle on a scheme, fund it properly and address this big social issue.”
Social care, which is paid for via local council budgets, varies across the UK, with each country varying in its provision.
In 2017, the BBC reported that directors of adult social services in England had to cut £4.6bn from their budgets since 2010.
Former health and social care minister Jeremy Hunt later admitted, during his campaign to become the Conservative Party leader, that cuts made on his watch had been “too much”.
The country’s ageing population increases demand and exacerbates the issue.
However on LBC Green blamed the last hung parliament for lack of action on social care, rather than austerity.
He said that under general taxation, those currently in their 30s, 40s and 50s will be paying both towards the care of the present older generation as well as towards their future care.
He said: “We all accept there has to be more money to go into the system. You can pay it just out of general taxation and say it’s all free, but that means that people who are currently taxpayers – that are currently 30, 40, 50s now – will have to pay towards their own care at the end of life but also they’ll instantly start paying for the older generation’s care as well, which I think to put it mildly has fairness implications to it.
“Or you can try some kind of insurance system so that those who can afford to take out an insurance policy should be encouraged to do so, which will buy them peace of mind.”
Green has urged different funding solutions before – in April on Nick Ferrari’s LBC show he called for a tax rise for the over-50s – but has now proposed insurance, even in the wake of a Conservative general election manifesto commitment that nobody will have to sell their home to fund social care.
Forgarty asked about this, noting it still leaves room for other forms of using property as a source of wealth.
In response Green said people would still do that, in a “controlled amount”.
“If you have a big enough insurance system you don’t need people selling their homes.
“You need a bit of property wealth to do it but it’ll be a controlled amount – they’ll know what they’re spending, they’ll know what they’ve got left in their house – that’s the system that I advocate.
“I accept that there are other ways of doing it but somewhere you have to find the money and if you just find a general taxation, which is the simplest way, then that’s unfair on current working-age people.”