Delay to social care reforms ‘source of great regret’ but will happen if Tories win next election – Hunt

The Chancellor said he believes delayed social care reforms will be brought in if the Conservatives win the next general election, after doubt was cast over their fate.

Jeremy Hunt (pictured) said it was not “easy” for him to delay the implementation of the long-promised social care cap and other charging reforms by two years.

On Thursday Mr Hunt said the changes – which he linked to Sir Andrew Dilnot, architect of the original plans for a care cap – would now be rolled out nationally in October 2025.

But the charity Age UK said the delay “raises serious questions over whether it will ever be introduced at all”.

And Paul Johnson, director of the Institute for Fiscal Studies, said he fears the delay “amounts to a death knell for these vital changes”.

“Government should not be making and then reneging on promises like this which matter so much to vulnerable people,” he said.

The reforms include an £86,000 cap on personal care cost contributions, and an expanded means test that is more generous than the existing one, which had been due to come into effect from October 2023.

On Friday the Chancellor told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “It’s not disappearing into the ether, but I agree it’s a source of great regret to me.

“I believe it will happen if the Conservatives win the next general election.”

Mr Hunt insisted he “passionately” did not want to delay the reforms, but said he was prepared to do difficult things if they are right for the country.

He was reminded of his comments when he was health secretary in 2013 and described the Dilnot reforms as a “watershed moment for our country” saying “for too long the issue of social care has been ducked” leading to an “unfair system that has seen people selling their homes and losing nearly everything, with us that unfairness is ending”.

The Chancellor told BBC Breakfast: “I don’t pretend this was an easy thing for me to do given what I said in 2013 but it does mean we can give overall a bigger increase to social care than it’s ever had in its history.

“Some of those decisions are very hard for me as Chancellor, I’m a Conservative Chancellor that has put up taxes, I’ve had to delay those Dilnot reforms to social care which is something I passionately did not want to do.

“But I’m doing it because we face an international economic crisis and I recognise that people are worried about the future and I’m prepared to do difficult things even if they’re things I wouldn’t personally choose to do, because they’re the right thing for the country.”

Copyright (c) PA Media Ltd. 2022, All Rights Reserved. Picture (c) Aaron Chown / PA.