Tuesday 12 November 2019
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Social care: Hunt and Johnson urged to consider NHS-style free service

The two Tory leadership candidates have been challenged to bring forward plans to tackle the social care crisis in England if they become prime minister.

A committee of peers has called for an immediate £8bn cash increase and a move to a free, NHS-based system.

Jeremy Hunt has pledged more council funding and an opt-out insurance system for people to save for future care.

Boris Johnson said everyone deserved "security and dignity in their old age".

Meanwhile, councils say the government's delayed plans on elderly care should be published by September at the latest.

Ministers say they have responded to growing pressure on the system with extra money for residential care, providing £650m this year.

But the demand posed by an ageing society and the number of those living with debilitating and degenerative conditions, such as dementia, has put a huge strain on resources.

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BBC assistant political editor Norman Smith said that, while both Tory leadership candidates had made the issue a priority, successive governments had ducked away from far-reaching changes, daunted by the costs and political risks involved.

The new plan, put forward by the Lords Economic Affairs Committee, was much more ambitious than any of the ideas mooted so far, he said.

The report focuses on social care in England only - the area is a devolved issue in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

It says residential care should be free at the point of delivery, modelled on the NHS. While individuals would still have to pay for their accommodation, there would be no costs for non-medical care.

The cross-party committee says the system should be paid for through general taxation, estimating the cost to be about £7bn a year.

Some of the cash, the peers say, could come from the £20bn increase in NHS funding by 2023 agreed by the government last year.