I think it is very important that we urgently progress with the proposal the Government has already announced to limit the cost of care in those cases where the costs become very great to the families concerned. It is really important that we bring in these reforms as soon as possible and I will continue to press for this.
Furthermore, during this Parliament, the Government has made several proposals for reforming adult social care in England, including measures that would have provided additional funding, the Social Care White Paper and the social care cap. The Opposition has consistently opposed each of these proposals to date.
I am opposed to proposals for a National Care Service, and there are significant flaws in the Fabian Society's report (conducted on behalf of the Opposition) advocating for this approach. For example, the Fabian Society states that “delivering on people’s aspirations for what an NCS would achieve will require a very substantial increase in public funding over many years.” However, the report does not state the cost of such measures or how they would be paid for.
Current proposals for a National Care Service risk causing a complex, centralising, top-down reorganisation of health and social care across England. The Fabian Society’s report proposes new legislation that would impose new duties on central and local government, as well as introducing a national care guarantee, codified in a new National Care Service ‘constitution’. No information is provided on how the income would be raised to fund central and local government for the costs of these new duties, but the independent Kings Fund has stated that this would require wider reform of local government finance.
I also note that Labour MSPs have opposed similar proposals introduced by the Scottish Government, with criticism levelled at the top-down centralisation, structural change and lack of clarity around what a National Care Service would cost to deliver.
In the meantime, the Government remains committed to reforming adult social care in England, and is providing up to £2.8 billion in 2023-24 in England and £4.7 billion in 2024-25 to put the social care system on a more sustainable footing.