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

The hon. Gentleman will know that social care is devolved, but he is right to point out that any change to attendance allowance, which is a UK benefit, would have implications for Scotland. Of course we would work with colleagues in Scotland, and with the First Secretary, on making progress with any changes.

The current care system is piecemeal and complicated. Many do not know that care is means-tested. People face a battle to access the care that they need. When they succeed, the care can be of a poor quality, but not always. Resources are not channelled to where they are needed the most and, as we all know, carers often do not get the support that they need to make life tolerable and to enable them to provide the care and support that they want to to their loved ones, while also balancing other aspects of their life, such as work.

This much we know, and we know that the problem will become more pressing as the population gets older. When the NHS was created, there were eight working adults for every retired person. Today there are four, and by 2050 that figure will fall to just two. If the system is left unreformed, there are real questions about its sustainability in the long term.

I turn now to the Green Paper that we brought forward in July.

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