Matt Hancock Defends Delays Over Plans For New Social Care Strategy
Matt Hancock has defended the government's delay in bringing forward a new plan for overhauling adult social care.
The Health Secretary suggested the pandemic was partly responsible for the delay, but insisted he was "personally committed" to delivering a plan by the end of the year.
It comes after a crunch meeting between the Prime Minister, Chancellor Rishi Sunak, and Hancock set for Tuesday was reportedly postponed despite increasing anger from the sector over the lack of a proper plan to fund adult social care.
But despite increasing demands on government to explain the delay of care plans, Hancock told Sky News he was "absolutely" not going to discuss his diary or why the meeting had been delayed, saying only that the government was working "very closely" on the plan.
Writing for the Daily Mail, former health secretary Jeremy Hunt said the meeting was a "do or die" moment for social care as he urged ministers not to "put our heads in the sand".
The Tory MP, who now chairs the Commons health select committee, added: "Nothing could be worse as we try to bring down the waiting times for 5 million people – and we are guaranteed winter crisis after winter crisis when hospitals fill up. So rather than put our heads in the sand and hope the problem goes away, it is time to grasp the nettle."Ministers have been promising to deliver a new long-term funding plan for social care since summer 2019, but have repeatedly failed to come forward with any new legislation.
Hancock has suggested the latest delay was partly due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, saying the government is now committed to bringing forward the plan before the end of the year.
"I talk to the Prime Minister every single day and we’re working very closely together on the delivery of this policy," he said.
"We absolutely were working on the plan before the pandemic struck, but you will understand that when the pandemic struck it was all hands on deck to protect lives and to get us out of this as fast as possible, and the vaccine is doing that.
"The Prime Minister has committed to delivering this plan before the end of the year and we’re going to do that."
Sir Andrew Dilnot, who led a 2011 government-commission review into the funding of social care sector, said ministers should be considering a new national insurance contribution to fund social care.
He told the BBC's Today programme that he believed a 1% increase in government spending would "take us from a [social care] system we should all be ashamed of to a system we could be proud of".
He added: "If we want wealthier people to pay more towards social care, the let's have a national insurance contribution dedicated towards social care.
"Trying to use the social care system to target wealthier people is always going to be unsuccessful, because the only people it would target would be wealthy people who were unlucky enough to have high social care needs.
"So it's a kind of category error. Fairness is important, but the tax system is the best way of achieving it."
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