Matt Hancock has pledged a £3.5 billion cash injection to prop up the social care system as he kick-starts his campaign to become the UK’s next prime minister.
In an interview with the Daily Mail, the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care said he would seek the extra funds in the next Spending Review.
The social care system has received a number of cash injections in recent years, including £650 million announced in the 2018 Autumn budget, but Hancock insisted “we can’t go on with one-year-at-a-time top-ups”.
Hancock, who has today launched his bid to succeed Theresa May as prime minister, also called for a state-backed insurance scheme to fund social care in the future.
He said the idea for an insurance scheme is the centre-piece of the government’s long-delayed social care green paper and a “priority” in his own campaign.
The Health and Social Care Secretary described the current social care system as “unsustainable” and said there’s a “whole number of injustices” affecting society’s most vulnerable people.
“One of the biggest injustices is that for people who worked hard all their lives and have put money aside – the system penalises them and won’t fund their care without them having to sell the house, whereas people who haven’t put money aside get their care supported. I think this is very unfair,” he said.
Previous attempts to persuade the insurance market to offer cover for social care costs have failed because of the potential size and unpredictability of the bills involved.
He stressed that the payments could be made over many years of a working life.
The scheme, which would be made voluntary, would require all workers over 40 to contribute 2.5% of their wages.
“I’d like to see people encouraged to take it out when they get their first mortgage – that being the point where many people buy life insurance,” said Hancock
The insurance scheme would do away with previous Conservative proposals to put a lifetime cap on care costs.
In February, Matt Hancock told Theresa May in a leaked letter seen by The Telegragh that he was “concerned” that the care cap – which he said could cost up to £3.4 billion – is being including in the green paper.
The cap would see people pay a maximum of £100,000 for their care over their lifetime, excluding the cost of accommodation.
Hancock apparently warned May that any plan to re-introduce the cap would “confer a significant benefit to the well-off at the expense of the general taxpayer”.
Tory MP and prominent Brexiteer Jacob Rees-Mogg recently said that social care costs should be capped at £5,000.
Rees-Mogg made his remarks in support of a new social care policy paper published by thinktank Policy Exchange.
The Tory MP said social care should be made “largely free at the point of use”, with the introduction of £5,000 cap for those that can afford it.