Remember how Boris Johnson said he’d fixed social care? Well this week it became clear that he won’t get close.
MPs passed a set of social care changes in the House of Commons on Monday evening that include an attack on ordinary people. But they didn’t pass by the majority that Johnson would have wanted.
In fact 19 Tory MPs joined Labour to vote against them, showing a deepening crisis for Johnson within his own party.
Just a few weeks ago the Tories announced a new health and social care levy—a hike in national insurance contributions.
They said they would cap the cost of care at £86,000. Johnson said it would mean the end of older and disabled people having to sell their family homes to pay for care homes.
And it would be an end to the widespread fears of millions of people about how they would cope financially with old age and illness.
But last week we got to read the small print of the government’s social care bill, carefully hidden away beneath the furore over the scrapping of part of the HS2 rail line.
Payments towards social care would be calculated in a way that leaves the poorest people paying the same as those whose homes are worth millions.
Now, only the amount they actually pay themselves—not the state help they get—will count towards the £86,000 total.
With the average care home stay lasting less than two years, this suggests many more low income people will die before reaching the cap. They will also lose a far greater proportion of their assets in the process.
If you live in house worth a million pounds, 90 percent of your assets will be protected if you need social care. But if your house is worth just £80,000, for example, you will lose nearly everything.
And government ministers are now having to admit their claims that no one would again be forced to sell their house to pay for care are completely untrue.
The best that business minister Paul Scully could offer this week was, “There will be fewer people selling their houses and hopefully none.”
The government’s change is expected to save it around £900 million a year by the time it becomes fully operational at the end of the decade.
So now, not only will less well-off people make a bigger contribution to social care costs than the rich through higher national insurance.
They will be fleeced at the end of their lives too. The fiasco makes the case for the need to wrestle the entire social care system away from the private providers and agencies that manage care.
There needs to be a new system of social care that puts the needs and wants of the cared for at the centre.
This new system needs to be paid for by the wealthy few who have cashed in during the pandemic.
It is a tragedy that Labour is allowing the Tories to get away with their cascade of lies.
Keir Starmer is so cared of taxing the rich that none of his shadow ministers dare mention the only real way to “fix” social care for the better.
Health and Social Care Bill could lead to privatisation
The Tories claim the bill will allow the creation of a “truly integrated” health service in England. When it was announced, they also said it marked the end of decades of NHS privatisation.
But the bill does the opposite.
The 42 new independently-run “Integrated Care Systems” that will be set up give big business a seat the table.
They will be able to press for more privatisation, and sell-offs of the NHS. Already over 11 percent of the NHS budget goes to private companies. Another danger is that these groups will commission and deliver services within a geographical area.
That will mean the quality of NHS services could vary from one city or town to the next, and that national standards of care will be abandoned.
Doctor-led campaign organisation EveryDoctor, said, “Privatisation has been creeping into the NHS for three decades but if this bill passes, there’ll be no turning back.”