I’ve received a lot of correspondence recently from constituents about social care in the UK. I know this is an issue that affects many of us across the UK, and in the constituency, and it is something that this government has set out to tackle.
I completely agree that social care is at the front line of the fight with coronavirus, protecting vulnerable people and continuing to provide vital care in communities across the country. As many of you pointed out, in the Conservative Manifesto, on which I was proud to stand, it was made clear that we must build the same level of consensus on social care that we have already built on the NHS, across political parties. We are dedicated to working cross-party to find an answer that solves the problem, commands the widest possible support, and stands the test of time. I stand by this commitment, and remain committed to establishing a care system fit for the 21st century.
I want to note that individuals have always contributed to the cost of their care. Charging is calculated on the basis that people should not be charged more than is reasonably practicable for them to pay, under the Care Act 2014. Where someone can afford to pay for their care it has been made clear that they should not be compelled to sell their home during their lifetime to do so. That is why the Government legislated to make deferred payment agreements available across England for people with less than £23,250 in non-housing wealth. By entering into a deferred payment agreement, a person can ‘defer’ or delay paying the costs of their care and support until a later date, including out of their estate if they choose.
I understand that there are currently no plans to introduce an additional tax allowance for self-funding residents. I want to reassure you that social care costs are an important consideration of the upcoming Government Green Paper on Social Care. The Green Paper is set to be published at the earliest opportunity and will follow developments on supporting social care costs closely. I know that the Government will consider a range of funding options and some key stakeholders in the care sector do not support a cap. While I am supportive of a cap, I recognise that this may not be the best solution and will continue to follow the debate in this area closely.
I appreciate that many of you raised points about the need for more investment into care workers. Social work and social care staff were included as key workers to ensure that they were able to continue their jobs without needing to take time out to look after their children at home. Emergency Legislation passed before Parliament closed empowered authorities to emergency register suitable people as regulated healthcare professionals, like nurses, paramedics, and social workers, to ensure vital continuity of care for vulnerable children and adults. Further, it provided indemnity insurance to ensure those providing healthcare service activity are legally protected for the work they are required to undertake as part of the COVID-19 response.
The Government has also made £2.9bn funding available, comprised of £1.6bn for local authorities across the country to ensure that they are able to deal with the impact of coronavirus on social care, and £1.3bn to enhance the NHS discharge process so patients who no longer need urgent treatment can return home safely and quickly.
Fixing care is something that will take dedication and cooperation from both sides of the House, but it is something that this government has made a top priority. I agree that this period has made it clear how much we rely on our carers and our care sector needs support. I will continue to follow developments with this issue closely.
Thank you again to those who took the time to contact me about this.