My right hon. Friend makes a good point. However, I believe that healthcare is different. Social care should be funded differently because everybody has a personal responsibility to provide for themselves in the future. Of course, people do not put money aside for many reasons. The system must be mandatory—that is the key—so that everybody puts some money aside even when times are tough. There is a threshold for people on low incomes, but the system means that people properly prepare for the future.
One of the biggest benefits comes when people are assessed as needing care. They can take the services of a charitable provider or the local authority, or decide to take the money. People who decide to take the money on a monthly basis can pay it to a relative or loved one to look after them. Another big benefit is therefore social cohesion. The system is about family looking after family, just as we used to do. We do not do that as much now. The system is good for society and for community. We saw that huge benefit when we went to Germany.
We have cross-party support for the idea. Both Select Committees—20-odd of us—reached that conclusion. It was one of the recommendations of our report, so we should work cross-party on it. There have been commissions on social care in the past, but when they report, the question is whether the recommendations are possible politically. If we put together our own parliamentary commission and reach cross-party consensus, I believe that we could deliver the recommendation.
The system has to be mandatory because there will not be an insurance market for it otherwise. That was the problem with the Dilnot recommendation. The scheme was not mandatory and therefore no insurance market developed on the back of it, so there was nothing available for social insurance. It is a great opportunity, which will cut the link between a potential huge future cost for local authorities, and our ageing population and the increased number of people with learning disabilities. Obviously, local authorities will have a huge part to play in directing services, but they will also be able to provide the other services that are critical for local people.
I am keen to work cross-party on the matter. I know that the Local Government Minister has regarded the proposal positively in the past and I am keen for the Department to give it a positive recommendation in the forthcoming Green Paper.