‘Unavoidable’ Government cash boost needed for social care in England, says Tory
Extra Government spending on social care is “unavoidable” to prevent other essential council services being “swallowed up”, a Conservative former cabinet minister has said.
Damian Green’s warning came as he pressed for a two-pronged approach to resolve the long-standing funding crisis in England.
This would include a state-backed “universal care entitlement” and a new form of insurance designed specifically to finance more expensive care costs in old age, known as the “care supplement”.
Mr Green (pictured) said the proposed system would be similar to pensions in which a basic service is provided and people can also voluntarily top-up their contributions via a private system at a level they can afford.
The Government has faced criticism after deciding to push back long-promised social care reforms to October 2025.
These included an £86,000 cap on personal care cost contributions and an expanded means test that was more generous than the existing one, which had been due to come into effect from October 2023.
Speaking during a Commons debate, Mr Green said the current funding model places a “huge strain” on councils and the system is kept going by one-off injections of central government cash.
He added: “Funding social care out of council tax means local authorities are reluctant to allow too many care homes to be built or indeed retirement housing because they do not want an increasingly elderly population.
“The ageing population means that already something like 50% of some councils’ spending goes on social care.
“That figure is projected to rise to 60% and if you look at the demographic trends then my fear is some higher tier authorities that are funding social care will end up basically as social care providers with a few libraries and a bit of money to spend on potholes and not much else; a lot of essential council services will just be swallowed up by the need for social care.”
He added a “radical” change is needed which, among other things, must provide enough money to cope with the ageing population, be fair across generations and prevent people from needing to sell their homes,
Mr Green suggested a “universal care entitlement”, adding: “This would offer a better level of care both for home care and residential care.
“For those who need residential care, this would cover the core residential costs, the needs would be assessed locally but the money would come from central government – which would take away the pressure on local councils.
“I think the state element of funding of this should come centrally rather than locally. Will it involve extra money? Of course it will.
“But the Government has already implicitly admitted that it needs extra money by the annual injections of extra money that it puts in so I think this is a necessary increase in public spending.
“I accept all the pressures and controversies that will cause but it seems to me unavoidable.”
Mr Green went on to detail his insurance proposal, something he has raised over the years.
Communities minister Lee Rowley said “significant additional funding” has gone in to social care and “is going in over the course of the remainder of the spending review period, £2 billion of additional grants in 23/24, £1.5 billion, nearly, of additional funding in 24/25”.
He added: “Money isn’t everything, but ultimately there is a recognition, I think, on all sides of the House that there are challenges around adult social care and more money has gone in.
“In the conversations that I’ve had with local government over the past few weeks there is a recognition that this settlement has provided a good level of funds, that it will be moving in a positive direction, and it is providing the stability and greater certainty that they have requested and which we have responded to as a Government in that regard.
“We need to support the most vulnerable and those who are in need, irrespective of age and irrespective of condition.
“And what we are trying to do over the course of the changes that are coming in the financial year to come is to try to provide additional funds, additional support, additional taxpayer subsidy to do that and to ensure that local government can continue to build and improve for the long term.”
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