MPs fed up with social care 'point-scoring'

Baby-boomers will need huge social care investment
Baby-boomers will need huge social care investment

By Alex Stevenson

MPs have called on the major parties to avoid "pre-election point-scoring" and come together to achieve consensus on social care reform.

The report from the Commons' health committee comes after a conference on Wednesday in which the Conservatives criticised health secretary Andy Burnham for failing to make up his mind on the way forward, with just three weeks to go until a white paper on social care is published.

Following Tory attacks over the 'death tax', one proposal among several being considered by Mr Burnham which would require a mandatory levy based on inheritance tax, cross-party talks have struggled.

"We would have liked to see all the political parties come together to map out sustainable reform, instead of indulging in pre-election point-scoring," today's report concludes.

"There is still an opportunity, though, in advance of the demographic challenges to come, to reform social care, achieving consensus and creating a lasting solution."

The report attacked the government's personal care at home bill, which proposes providing free care at home for around 250,000 of the neediest elderly.

"We have strong misgivings about the free personal care at home bill, which smacks of policy-making on the hoof," the report stated.

"This piecemeal reform risks creating perverse incentives and introducing unanticipated consequences."

Age Concern and Help the Aged, which hosted Wednesday's care summit, have called for the parties to work out where the extra public money needed to fund care in later life will come from.

"There is no such thing as a free lunch," director of policy and public affairs Andrew Harrop said.

"We urge them all to set out their plans in full before the election to give voters a choice. Politicians owe it to all of us to maintain the momentum behind care reform and come up with long-term solutions."


Politics @ Lunch

Friday lunchtime. Your Inbox. It's a date.