The Conservatives have pledged to inject an extra £1 billion per year in social care over the next five years to “stabilise” the system and provide extra support to people of all ages.
Writing in the Daily Mail Hancock said that ‘cross-party consensus’ was needed on a long-term plan, saying that social care was ‘too important to be politicised’ and that parties should work on new proposals ‘as soon as possible’ after the election.
According to the Local Government Association adult social care services will face a £3.5bn funding gap by 2024/25 amid rising demand and a squeeze on local government resources.
The Conservatives’ notorious 2017 pledge to address the problem was broadly seen as one of the main reasons Theresa May’s election campaign faltered, with Labour calling Tory proposals a “dementia tax”.
But Mr Hancock made clear that the party would not duck the issue in the run-up to this year’s election, as he admitted that successive governments had “failed to properly address this issue” and had treated social care as “a political football”.
“We need a long-term solution for social care that rises above party politics,” he wrote in the Daily Mail.
Mr Hancock added: “In our manifesto we will commit to an ambitious three-point plan to address the social care challenge and give people across our country the dignity and security they deserve.”
The Health Secretary said the Tories’ proposals on social care would first seek to “stabilise” the system by providing local authorities with a £5bn cash boost over the next five years.
“In the autumn, we committed £1 billion extra funding to help local authorities to meet rising demand,” he said.
“At this election, we are going further and will commit this £1 billion additional funding for every year of the new Parliament – a £5 billion commitment across the next parliament to support local authorities to meet peoples’ needs for more social care staff, better infrastructure, technology and facilities.”
Jeremy Hughes, Chief Executive at Alzheimer’s Society, said:
While it’s good to see social care being rightly recognised by all parties as a key election issue, what we need to see are detailed plans to fix dementia care for hundreds of thousands of families across the country. Too many vulnerable people are having to sell homes, or miss our completely on critical care because of the price tag. £1bn a year on its own would only stave off utter collapse, it’s nowhere near enough.
“Whoever is next in Government has to take the lead, and act decisively to resolve the funding of social care, and improve the quality of support people get. Cross party consensus, while laudable, must not be as an excuse for more dither and delay.”