A former government minister has called for renewed debate on the future funding of adult social care through taxation – the national insurance option.
Malcolm Wicks, who was energy minister until October last year, criticised the green paper when he spoke during the social care green paper debate in the House of Commons yesterday.
Wicks, who is the MP for Corydon North, said: “I would look seriously at the pros and, no doubt, cons of a social insurance option—or what we now call a national insurance option.”
Tax option should still be debated
The paper – Shaping the future of care together – laid out five options for funding but rejected two immediately. This included the taxation option, which Wicks said was strange.
He added: “It is almost as if two hands wrote that section of the green paper, and I am bound to say that I see the cold, grey hand of the Treasury all over it. That option should not necessarily be the way ahead, but it requires serious study.”
Wicks was also critical of the lack of analysis made of carers in the green paper debate and commented on the possibility of a more “joined-up” approach towards the number of assessments people have to undergo to receive benefits.
During the debate MPs again raised the issue of attendance allowance and disability benefits. During the National Children and Adult Services conference at Harrogate health secretary Andy Burnham confirmed that disability living allowance for the under-65s was not going to be axed.
However, he refused to rule out axing attendance allowance and disability living allowance for the over-65s during the debate.
Tory shadow health minister Stephen O’Brien also criticised the green paper’s few mentions of carers’ needs and outlined plans for local directors of public health to have the power to allocate ring-fenced budgets to promote independent living for elderly people.
He also reiterated the Tory pledge to oppose scrapping attendance allowance.