Disability Benefits for the Elderly

Part of Opposition Day — [1st allotted day] – in the House of Commons at 4:06 pm on 8th December 2009.

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Photo of Andy Burnham Andy Burnham The Secretary of State for Health 4:06 pm, 8th December 2009

My hon. Friend puts it very well. It is because the system has grown in a piecemeal way over the years that it has become confusing and in many ways a lottery. It varies very greatly around the country, according to the eligibility criteria operated by councils and a range of other things. That means that the system is a lottery, and the serious purpose that lies behind the Green Paper is to create a fairer care system for all, in which the people with the greatest needs have those needs met and society as a whole shares the risks and costs of providing that care. In creating such a system, we will provide a better standard and quality of care.

As I said, those who suffer the most face paying the most. It is an enduring unfairness that was not resolved in the post-war settlement, but it becomes more evident and urgent as people increasingly live longer. This House has failed to address the problem, but I do not believe that that can continue. In my view, all parties should commit to reforming social care in England in the next Parliament.

One in five people will need care that costs less than £1,000 during their retirement. One in five will need care that costs more than £50,000. In the worst cases, the sum can exceed £200,000. This cruel lottery leaves us with no way of predicting our risk and makes it hard to protect ourselves against it.

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