POLITICS
06/09/2021 22:31 BST | Updated 06/09/2021 22:39 BST

Boris Johnson Vows Not To 'Duck Tough Decision' On Social Care Tax Hike

PM new funding plan aims to increase NHS capacity by 10%

DAN KITWOOD via Getty Images

Boris Johnson has promised he “will not duck the tough decisions” to fix the broken social care system as he prepares to unveil his long-awaited plan to MPs.

The Prime Minister will set out in the Commons on Tuesday how he aims to tackle the social care crisis amid a growing Tory backlash over reported plans to raise National Insurance to fund the changes to the system in England – in breach of a general election commitment.

It is understood that a cap on care costs will be set at £80,000 and the rate of National Insurance will go up by 1.25%, raising more than £10bn.

Insiders claim that the extra cash will boost the NHS’s capacity by 10% and the bulk of the cash raised will be spent on the health service in the first three years.

As well as outlining measures to support the NHS in its recovery from Covid,  Johnson is expected to tell MPs that the challenges faced by the health service and the social care system are closely linked.

No 10 said a lack of integration between the two often sees people “stuck in the wrong care setting, and families worry about meeting the costs of care if they leave NHS provision”.

And Downing Street dubbed as “unfair and often catastrophic” the situation where someone who has dementia may have to pay for their care in full, while someone cared for by the NHS would receive care for free.

It said one in seven people now pays more than £100,000 for their care, and said the system can lead to “spiralling costs and the complete liquidation of someone’s assets”.

Under current arrangements, anyone with assets over £23,350 pays for their care in full, but No 10 said the costs were “catastrophic and often unpredictable”.

And Johnson said: “We must act now to ensure the health and care system has the long term funding it needs to continue fighting Covid and start tackling the backlogs, and end the injustice of catastrophic costs for social care.

“My government will not duck the tough decisions needed to get NHS patients the treatment they need and to fix our broken social care system.”

Following a statement in Parliament, the PM – along with Chancellor Rishi Sunak and Health Secretary Sajid Javid – will give a press conference on Tuesday afternoon.

Ahead of the announcement, No 10 remained tight-lipped on the detail.

On Monday, the Prime Minister’s official spokesperson said: “We are committed to setting out long-term sustainable reform of the sector and that is what we will do, but beyond that, I am not going to be getting into any more speculation.”

But Fiona Carragher, director of influencing and research at Alzheimer’s Society, said: “We’re delighted to see the Prime Minister honouring his promise to bring forward proposals to reform social care. For far too long, people affected by dementia, the majority using social care, have cruelly borne the brunt of a broken system, facing catastrophic costs.”

Shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth said: “A long-term plan on social care and a rescue plan to address the crisis the NHS has been in for years are both long overdue.

“The Prime Minister must set out how he will bring down waiting lists quickly, support the NHS workforce, fix crumbling hospitals and deliver modern equipment to speed up diagnosis of deadly diseases, and crucially, ensure more people can access the social care they need.”

Earlier, a Government minister acknowledged there were no easy solutions but insisted that they had to take advantage of the opportunity offered by Mr Johnson’s 2019 general election win.

Armed Forces minister James Heappey told LBC: “This is going to be hard, there will be no consensus, but we have to try, because if you can’t do it with a majority of 80, when can you?”

However former minister Jake Berry, leader of the Northern Research Group of Tory MPs, warned against a policy that appeared aimed at elderly voters in affluent southern seats.

Reports have suggested that lifetime contributions on care will be capped at about £80,000 and National Insurance will be increased by 1.25% to raise between £10 billion and £11 billion per year.

Tory former Cabinet minister Sir John Redwood warned against a “stupid” tax rise.

“A tax on jobs when you want to promote more and better-paid employment is particularly stupid,” he said.

Tory former chancellors Lord Hammond, Lord Clarke and Lord Lamont have all criticised the plan to increase National Insurance, while former prime minister Sir John Major said it was “regressive”.

Labour leader Keir Starmer has also signalled his party’s opposition to the proposal.