Coronavirus and Care Homes

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:33 pm on 19th May 2020.

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Photo of Matthew Hancock Matthew Hancock Secretary of State for Health and Social Care 12:33 pm, 19th May 2020

The hon. Gentleman makes a really important point and it comes to the nub of the challenge around care home policy. I do want to congratulate Brent. I think that the work it did was important, but, of course, formally and in the law responsibility for care homes is for local councils and some local councils, like Brent and others, have done a magnificent job. However, I also understand that it is a reality of political life and our constitution that I as Secretary of State for Health and Social Care am also responsible, and I take that responsibility very seriously. However, when it comes to longer-term reform, this does bring a conundrum because the policy levers that I have as Secretary of State are only through councils, which themselves have to then act.

On the funding side we have seen this challenge. We put in £1.6 billion at the start of this crisis through councils without a ring fence, and there are questions being raised about how much of that has got to the frontline, so for the £600 million we put through on Friday we have put in a very firm ring fence, so it must be paid in a timely manner through to care providers. I think this actually raises a question not just for the crisis but for the longer term. When I am held accountable at this Dispatch Box for the actions of local authorities, I can give support, but we do not have the direct levers. We have not even had the direct data flows through to the centre, and we are putting that right too.