Yesterday the Prime Minister set out plans to tackle the Covid backlogs and reform adult social care, with £36bn being raised in the health and care system over the next three years, to ensure it has the long term resource it needs.
The Local Government Association (LGA) have welcomed the new social care announcement but called for further clarity on a range of additional issues.
From April 2022, the government will introduce a new, UK-wide 1.25 percentage point increase in National Insurance (Health and Social Care Levy) to help tackle the NHS backlog. This will then return to its current rate in April 2023, with a new health and social care tax being introduced at a rate of 1.25% instead. The rates of dividend tax will also increase by 1.25% to help fund this package.
The new plans aim to ensure everyone contributes fairly, with all working adults, including those over the state pension age, paying the levy.
Every individual will contribute based on their income, with those earning more paying more. Employers who benefit from a healthy workforce and a taxpayer funded health service, will be asked to contribute so the costs are more widely shared.
This will raise around £12bn extra funding per year, to be invested initially in the NHS backlog, before a proportion is moved to social care over the next three years.
Responding to the Government’s ‘Build back better: our plan for health and social care’ publication, Cllr James Jamieson, Chairman of the LGA, said: “We recognise that protecting people from ‘catastrophic care costs’ and having to sell their home to pay for care is a government commitment. It is an important first step toward changing the way social care is funded and will help to reduce the burden of costs on people.
“It is good that the government recognises that this alone is not enough to give the nation the social care system it wants and needs and the further announcements around the care workforce, Disabled Facilities Grant and supported housing are helpful.
“However, there are a range of additional crucial issues which need to be addressed if we are to deliver a care and support system that is fit for the future. The promise of a new adult social care white paper – developed with councils, people who draw on social care and other partners – is positive but will need to be backed by adequate investment.
“More immediately, greater information is needed on what proportion of the new levy will come to social care, including when and how the funding will be distributed.
“Much of the plan focuses on the NHS, but a sustainable NHS depends on a sustainable social care system, as care and support is essential in its own right in supporting people of all ages to live their best life as well as alleviating pressure on the health service. It is important to remember that, while the NHS backlog needs to be tackled, social care was already under greater pressure pre-pandemic.”
Part of the new social care reform means that no one in England will pay more than £86,000 in care costs over the course of their lifetime. This will apply regardless of where they live, how old they are, what their condition is, or how much they earn.
Those without savings will also be supported by the government, with the state covering all care costs for anyone with assets under £20,000.
Anyone with assets between £20,000 and £100,000 will be expected to contribute to the cost of their care but will also receive state support, which will be means-tested.
The new £100,000 limit is more than 4 times higher than the current limit of £23,250, meaning many more people will be eligible for support than under the current system.
Speaking in the House, Prime Minister, Boris Johnson said: “You can’t fix the Covid backlogs without giving the NHS the money it needs. You can’t fix the NHS without fixing social care, you can’t fix social care without removing the fear of losing everything to pay for it, and you can’t fix health and social care without long-term reform. The plan I am setting out today will fix all of these problems together.”
Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, said: “We’re tackling the NHS backlog and taking decisive action to fix our broken social care system.
“This significant £12bn-a-year long-term increase in public spending will improve people’s lives across the UK - but our health and social care systems cannot be rebuilt without difficult decisions.
“The new Health and Social Care Levy is the necessary and responsible thing to do to protect the NHS, sharing the cost between businesses and individuals and ensuring those earning more pay more.”
The social care workforce will receive new training and qualification opportunities, so they have the opportunity to progress and improve, while providing an even better standard of care.
While Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have their own systems, the government will work with the Devolved Administrations to tackle treatment backlogs and improve care for the elderly.
The government will set out a detailed plan later in the autumn to enable Local Authorities and other providers to invest in technology, innovative methods of care and in their workforce.