JEREMY HUNT: It's a do or die moment for my party over social care fees 

By Jeremy Hunt for the Daily Mail Published: 22:47 BST, 20 June 2021 | Updated: 23:00 BST, 20 June 2021 Rarely has a behind-closed-doors shadowy Whitehall meeting mattered so much to the lives of so m

JEREMY HUNT: It's a do or die moment for my party over social care fees 

JEREMY HUNT: It's a do or die moment for my party over social care fees

Rarely has a behind-closed-doors shadowy Whitehall meeting mattered so much to the lives of so many. Tomorrow, if rumours are correct, Boris Johnson will sit down with Rishi Sunak and Matt Hancock to decide whether or not to keep his manifesto promise on social care.

I wanted Boris's job in Downing Street and fought with every breath I had to beat him. But even I, his vanquished rival, had to take my hat off to the big-heartedness of the promise he made on the steps of Downing Street when he got the job.

Those words brought hope to millions: 'I am announcing now – on the steps of Downing Street – that we will fix the crisis in social care once and for all with a clear plan we have prepared to give every older person the dignity and security they deserve.'

Optimistic words from a prime minister who has made defying the 'gloomsters' his trademark. And now we need that optimism more than ever to turn Britain into a country where everyone can face the prospect of old age with confidence and security. For that they need to know there will be a decent safety net to make sure everyone gets the care they need – just like the NHS does for health.

They also need to know the loved ones they leave behind won't lose all their savings if they end up with dementia and having to pay expensive care home fees.

But is it too expensive? Understandably some of our national bean-counters are worried it may be, with our national finances shot to pieces by the pandemic.

Tomorrow, if rumours are correct, Boris Johnson (pictured) will sit down with Rishi Sunak and Matt Hancock to decide whether or not to keep his manifesto promise on social care

Tomorrow, if rumours are correct, Boris Johnson (pictured) will sit down with Rishi Sunak and Matt Hancock to decide whether or not to keep his manifesto promise on social care

It's time for this Conservative government to fix social care so we can all sleep soundly at night knowing that whatever fate throws at us, we live in a society where every single older person will be treated with dignity and respect [Stock image]

It's time for this Conservative government to fix social care so we can all sleep soundly at night knowing that whatever fate throws at us, we live in a society where every single older person will be treated with dignity and respect [Stock image]

My select committee said last year that this broken system needs a minimum of £7billion more added to its budget every year – an eye-watering sum.

But that was not right away – rather a sum to build up to over the years ahead.

Look underneath the numbers, which the Health Foundation helped us to calculate, and in the short term they are pretty manageable. For example, if the proposals for a cap on care costs – as recommended by Andrew Dilnot – were introduced from April 2023, the additional annual cost would be less than a billion pounds a year in the last year of the parliament.

Not small change by any means – but easily manageable compared to the £23billion we already spend on adult social care annually. 

The costs do then go up significantly – but crucially not in the immediate post-pandemic period when we are having to fund other pressures such as the NHS backlog.

There are of course other things we need to fix too – in particular merging the system with the NHS and making sure local authorities can fulfil their duties.

But we will have to pay many of these anyway because they are caused by increases in the number of older people and promised rises in the national living wage.

We also need to consider what will happen if we do nothing, as I know to my cost from my time as health secretary: the system will just carry on doing what it always has done and export its most vulnerable patients back into NHS hospitals.

People need to know the loved ones they leave behind won't lose all their savings if they end up with dementia and having to pay expensive care home fees. Pictured: Health Secretary Matt Hancock, who is believed to be attending a meeting on social care on Tuesday

People need to know the loved ones they leave behind won't lose all their savings if they end up with dementia and having to pay expensive care home fees. Pictured: Health Secretary Matt Hancock, who is believed to be attending a meeting on social care on Tuesday

Tomorrow is a do-or-die moment for social care. Conservatives have always respected the different generations that make up the fabric of our society. Pictured: Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak, who is believed to be attending a meeting on social care on Tuesday

Tomorrow is a do-or-die moment for social care. Conservatives have always respected the different generations that make up the fabric of our society. Pictured: Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak, who is believed to be attending a meeting on social care on Tuesday

Nothing could be worse as we try to bring down the waiting times for five million people – and we are guaranteed winter crisis after winter crisis when hospitals fill up. So rather than put our heads in the sand and hope the problem goes away, it is time to grasp the nettle.

Come on Boris! On top of what we are going to have to pay anyway – because of demography and manifesto commitments to protect people's homes – the additional amounts necessary are much smaller than the headline figures. Japan and Germany have both grasped the nettle – surely we can too?

Tomorrow is a do-or-die moment for social care. Conservatives have always respected the different generations that make up the fabric of our society.

It's time for this Conservative government to get this done so we can all sleep soundly at night knowing that whatever fate throws at us, we live in a society where every single older person will be treated with dignity and respect.

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