Social care costs need 'urgent' clarification
Cabinet reshuffle: Social care costs need 'urgent' clarification
How social care is costed needs to be 'urgently' clarified, Aegon has said, following the addition of these responsibilities to Jeremy Hunt's role as health secretary.
The insurer's pension director Steven Cameron (pictured) said the government needed to ensure social care was now higher up on its priorities, following yesterday's cabinet reshuffle.
In the reshuffle, Jeremy Hunt kept his role as health secretary but was also given the added responsibility of social care policy.
He said, however:"Providing high quality social care and finding a sustainable way of funding it needs tackled without delay and will affect all of us long after Brexit is done and dusted.
"We welcome its explicit addition to the health secretary's job title and urgently need a clear picture of how the growing costs of an ageing society will be shared between the government and individuals who will then be able to plan ahead with greater confidence."
This needed to be linked in with broader pension policy and how people are encouraged to save for retirement, added Cameron, as for an increasing number of consumers part of retirement will now be spent in receipt of social care.
Royal London director of policy Steve Webb said the reshuffle of social care responsibility, though belated, was a welcomed"recognition of the vital importance of this policy area".
"Just two years ago the last government downgraded the status of the care services minister, so this is a welcome U-turn," he said. "But the health secretary already has his hands more than full dealing with immediate and long-term NHS pressures.
"It is, therefore, vitally important that a senior minister is appointed within the department who is able to focus specifically on social care and who can help the government move beyond green papers and consultations to real action."
Old Mutual Wealth financial planning expert Rachael Griffin similarly said what may have appeared as an"obvious tweak", represented a substantial change.
"The role used to sit with the Department of Communities and Local Government, which seemed counterintuitive," she said."The government has been making noises about wanting more coherent and integrated health and social care systems and this is an important step towards the integration."
The current social care funding model offered some"bizarre anomalies" and was"horrifically vague", said Griffin.
For instance, under the Continuing Healthcare rules, the NHS meets the costs of people's complex, severe or unpredictable health needs, she explained, and is applicable to both those in nursing homes and who get home help. To be eligible, an individual's primary need must be healthcare, rather than social.
Griffin said the shift of social care responsibilities would tidy up the system.
"We hope this opportunity is seized and, when combined with the upcoming green paper on social care, we finally have a system that is easy to understand so that people can plan appropriately for their future and make financial provision," she said.
In November, the government pledged it would publish a green paper on social care by summer 2018.