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Jeremy Hunt Hints Government Could “Look Again” At Social Care Cap Before Next Election


3 min read

Health select committee chair Jeremy Hunt has suggested that the government may be forced to review their controversial social care cap plans in light of heavy criticism from MPs.

The former health secretary, who abstained on Monday night’s vote on the plans, said the cap could be made more “generous” in future as the Health and Social Care Bill progresses through Parliament. 

Asked if he thought Monday’s social care cap amendment could be overturned, Hunt told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “I think it may be.”

“Certainly in time people will successfully make the case for the way the cap is calculated to be more generous.”

He added that other NHS issues, such as the “workforce crisis” and local authority funding were “much more pressing issues” and that MPs should be “talking about those” as well as social care.

The government has faced significant backlash in recent days after detail of how the social care cap would be costed showed that means tested local authority payments wouldn't count towards the £86,000 cap, leaving those with less wealth worse off. 

Hunt said this made it a "harder package to sell to the whole country". People in areas with lower house prices are likely to be the worst affected, as homes count towards assets that are assessed. 

"I hope very much this is something the government will look at again before the next election,” he added. 

“The last month has not been a good month for the government but, in the end, the thing that will count when we next face the electorate is whether the things we've promised to do to help ordinary people are actually happening.”

MPs voted through the new clause for the Bill with a majority of just 26 on Monday night following fierce opposition to the new measures, with many threatening to rebel ahead of the vote.

The government announced in September that lifetime care costs would be capped at £86,000 from October 2023.

But the PM has since faced criticism for the plans after detailed policy papers published last Wednesday revealed that any state contribution towards the cost of care will not count towards an individual’s £86,000 cap.

MPs voted 272 in favour to 246 against for the new clause which lays out costing details for the cap on how much people contribute to their social care.

It came after a difficult day for the PM following a “chaotic” speech to the CBI annual conference in which he compared his green policies to the Ten Commandments, imitated an accelerating car and was left shuffling papers after he lost his place.

But Hunt seemed relaxed about the impact of Johnson's shambolic speech, criticism of which dominated Tuesday's newspaper front pages. 

“In politics you have speeches that go well, that don't go well," he said. 

“You're talking to someone who, as the foreign secretary, called his Chinese wife Japanese, and I managed to get through that. 

“I don't think in the grander scheme of things people will remember that particular speech.”

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