Hewitt joins call for debate on charging

Health secretary Patricia Hewitt has said the country needs to follow the recent debate on pensions with one on social care charging, in response to the ageing population.

Hewitt’s words, to a meeting of the Alzheimer’s Society in Leicester, echo comments by care services minister Ivan Lewis, and suggest the government may abandon the current means-tested charging system.

The health secretary repeated the government’s opposition to free personal care, the policy pursued in Scotland for older people, but called for a debate on “how we share the costs of an ageing population”.

The Treasury is considering a less ambitious version of the “partnership model” proposed in Sir Derek Wanless’s report on social care charging.

Under the Wanless model, users would receive a level of free care they could top up with state assistance.

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