Health Secretary 'attracted to' new tax on over-40s to halt social care funding crisis
Matt Hancock has revealed he is considering plans for a new tax on the over-40s to solve Britain's social care funding crisis.
The Health Secretary said he was "attracted" to a plan set out in a joint report by MPs on the health and local government select committees which called for a new payment to be tacked onto the National Insurance contributions of those aged 40-65 in a bid to plug a funding gap.
The system would replicate that used in Germany, with the committees arguing that people would be willing to pay more provided there was "an absolute guarantee that the extra money would go on social care".
Mr Hancock told the Telegraph: "One of the reasons I’m attracted to the proposal is that it’s cross-party.
"This is a problem which can only be solved by people coming together behind a solution, because as soon as it’s turned into a political football it makes it extremely difficult to make any progress at all.
"I’m prepared to have a range of options and see if we can build a consensus around one of them rather than be dogmatic about it."
The plans could form part of the Government's long-awaited Social Care Green Paper, with Mr Hancock already revealing that ministers are considering a pensions-style auto-enrolment system as one option to close the funding shortfall.
Last month's Budget saw a fresh £650m pumped into the system, but experts warned that the additional cash would act as a "sticking plaster".
NHS Confederation chief executive Niall Dickson said: "This means we will struggle on for another year. We hope that the social care green paper is not further delayed: this has huge implications for both health and social care and most importantly for the people who need these crucial services."
The Local Government Association has meanwhile warned that adult social care services face a £3.5bn funding gap by 2025 just to maintain existing standards of care.
Ministers have long grappled with a way of sustainably funding the social care sector in the face of Britain's ageing population.
Local authorities, which currently fund social care, have meanwhile been hit by steep spending cuts in recent years, heaping additional pressure on the National Health Service as councils reduce provision.