Jeremy Hunt has admitted that some of the cuts made to social care during his time as health and social care secretary “did go too far”.
During a BBC debate on Tuesday night, Hunt said the government had not spent enough money on social care and was now paying the price.
The admission came after he had identified the social care crisis as among his “top priorities” if he were to become prime minister.
And yesterday he gave a verdict on the years of austerity cuts driven through by ex-Prime Minister David Cameron and ex-Chancellor George Osborne.
Hunt told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “I’m very happy to accept, as I do, having been responsible for the health and social care system, that we didn’t put enough money into social care.
“What a Prime Minister has to do is make those judgements as to what is necessary to deal with the economic crisis we faced in 2010 – the worst financial recession since the Second World War.
“And on the whole I think that George Osborne and David Cameron got those judgements right.
“But as the Health Secretary who is looking at hospital beds full of people who should’ve been discharged, but there were no places in the social care system for them to go to.
“I saw that winter after winter. And I do think the cuts to social care went too far – and I’ve got a solution to that.
“I want people to know that as Prime Minister I’m aware not just that you have to make these difficult choices, but also I accept that that sometimes when you get them wrong you need to learn.”
Commenting on the admission, Andrew Gwynne, the shadow secretary for local government, tweeted: “Jeremy Hunt: ‘I believe we cut social care funding too much’. Surely he meant to say, ‘I’m sorry I cut social care funding too much’?”