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Social Care

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 5:39 pm on 25th February 2020.

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Photo of Huw Merriman Huw Merriman Chair, Transport Committee 5:39 pm, 25th February 2020

I remember well the exchange that I had with the hon. Lady a couple of years ago. The point I was making was that we did not seem that far apart—she talked about the fact that more funds needed to be raised, and so did we, perhaps with people taking individual responsibility—but the response I got back was more like a lesson on why such policies cost us our majority. That may have been a fair point, but my frustration was that we were being honest and straight with people that if we actually want to reform the system, we may need to ask people to pay more in. Most people do not realise that they already have to pay for it; it is only when they access the service that they fully understand what it really costs them. A lot of people—about 50% of the population—think that the NHS takes care of social care for them. They do not understand.

Whenever we try to propose reform around election times, it turns into a political football. In a way, this is the time to have the conversation, because I do not believe there will be an election for many years to come, so there is the opportunity for us to work cross-party. The hon. Lady is absolutely right: for cross-party talks to occur, she needs a proper invite, and I very much hope that that will be forthcoming. However, given that we now have a Conservative majority, in the event that, sadly, these cross-party talks do not work out—as I say, I hope they do, because that is the greatest chance we have of delivering reform and persuading the public that we are all in this together on their behalf—then I very much hope that we will use our ideas, our mission and our majority to put reform through rather than saying that it has faltered because we cannot get consensus.

The most vulnerable, the elderly and the people who have worked hard all their lives are now lacking in dignity within the system because we simply do not have enough money in place. We have not delivered the reforms that we talk about in this place constantly but still fail to enact. I very much hope that this Government will do that, hopefully on a cross-party basis, but if that does not reach fruition, then by inputting our own principles, our own policies and our own devotion to the people I am talking about, so that we give them and the generations to come a better future.