Local Government and Social Care Funding

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 5:11 pm on 24th April 2019.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Norman Lamb Norman Lamb Chair, Science and Technology Committee (Commons) 5:11 pm, 24th April 2019

I very much agree, and those organisations do incredibly important work.

I want to mention the Care Act 2014, which I was responsible for taking through Parliament. I think it was widely regarded as good legislation, but I fear that it has been undermined by a failure to commit sufficient resources to really realise the transformation that it was designed to achieve in personalising care and putting the individual at the heart of everything that local authorities do. In particular, we legislated for a cap on care costs in that Act, but as soon as the Conservatives got rid of the Lib Dems from the coalition, that commitment was abandoned. All the work that we did in consulting and legislating for a cap on care costs to protect people from catastrophic cost has been lost. Of course, we know that in the 2017 general election the Prime Minister paid dearly for that politically, because the replacement proposal was sorely lacking and amounted, in many people’s eyes, to a tax on dementia.

I am conscious that you want me to shut up very soon, Mr Deputy Speaker, but I want to say something very briefly on future funding. It seems to me that if we are to achieve a sustainable settlement, we have to work on a cross-party basis and the Government have to embrace that. The motion still prompts the question of where the money is going to come from—it does not answer that question.

There are a range of solutions. My party and I have proposed a dedicated health and care tax that would appear on people’s pay packets so that everyone could see where the money was going, and which would be informed by an independent assessment, perhaps every five years, of how much the health and care system needed. It would take the politics out of the calculation of how much the care system needs. Then the parties could argue about whether they were prepared to meet those needs through an increase in that dedicated tax.

If we are to solve this, it will require political will. There has been a failure of the political class, not just in the last few years but ever since the late ’90s, when a royal commission established by the then Labour Government came up with proposals that were never implemented. It has been kicked in and out of the long grass ever since, and we are still waiting for a solution. It is time we found one, because we are letting down too many people in our country.