Chancellor Rishi Sunak has insisted that the Government is “keen” to deliver proposals for social care reform but called it a complex issue that “has defied solution by many governments over decades”.
Care groups, charities and cross-party politicians have long been calling for a plan on social care, as promised by Boris Johnson in his first speech after being elected Prime Minister in July 2019.
The Government is facing renewed pressure over delays in setting out a policy for the sector amid reports that a key meeting between the Chancellor, the Prime Minister and Health Secretary Matt Hancock this week was postponed.
The Chancellor told The Times CEO Summit on Thursday said that it was the right approach to “take the time” on reforms which would be sustainable in the face of an ageing population.
Asked if he was prepared to tinker with manifesto commitments if necessary to meet spending commitments, he said: “On social care, I think our position has been consistent for a while.
“We’re keen to bring forward options for reform of the social care system… we also need to look at how we pay for those reforms – I think most people would accept that those things have to come together.
“People say, why can’t you do it quickly? This is complicated, it has defied solution by many governments over decades.
“What’s important is, given we have an ageing population, the demographics are heading in one direction, and given this is a complicated issue, I think it’s right that we take the time to look at a set of reforms that will be sustainable.
“There’s no point doing something which is just a short-term fix. If you’re going to try and reform the system, you want that to be a lasting reform that will cope with the fact that we’ve got an ageing population.
“That requires some thought to get right.”
Ministers have insisted that the Government is committed to delivering the proposals before the end of the year but leaders of organisations representing adult social care providers have said the time for reform is now.
On Monday, social care leaders in England called on the Government to publish its proposed reforms of the sector before Parliament breaks for the summer on July 22.