Elderly Social Care (Insurance) Bill [HL] Debate

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Department: Department of Health and Social Care

Elderly Social Care (Insurance) Bill [HL]

Baroness Watkins of Tavistock Excerpts
2nd reading
Friday 16th July 2021

(2 years, 11 months ago)

Lords Chamber
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Baroness Watkins of Tavistock Portrait Baroness Watkins of Tavistock (CB)
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My Lords, I declare my interests as outlined in the register, but particularly as a NED of a housing association that provides care in people’s homes and residential care.

The noble Lord, Lord Lilley, has, I am certain, brought the Bill for our consideration for highly principled reasons; namely to try to reassure older people who are home owners that if they are insured against care home costs through a Government-owned company, they will be protected against having to sell their homes in future. I cannot, however, support the Bill, because I believe that if enacted, it would protect a small minority of people who have been fortunate enough to purchase a relatively valuable home, and it would fail to address the real and urgent problem regarding social care funding. There are people who need assistance in their own homes, as well as those who need residential facilities in later life.

The Government have promised to bring a Bill on social care funding policy to Parliament before the end of this year. But, as others have reported, the papers today tell us it might be here on Tuesday. It is essential that this is achieved and that the suggestions in any Bill are properly debated in both Houses and achieve cross-party support. If this is effectively achieved, there will be a long-term solution for the whole of the United Kingdom, enacted and supported by successive Governments, irrespective of which party is in power.

This was announced in the Conservative party manifesto, which was clear to voters, who demonstrated that they wanted a long-term policy that would be fair to older people today and to their families in the future through their resounding support for the manifesto, resulting in a majority of 80 in the other House. Failure to deliver on that promise would lose significant support for this Government, and therefore I believe that the Bill will be forthcoming.

I hope the Government’s Bill will be based on some of the principles laid out in the Dilnot report, which received overwhelming support from the majority of health and social care organisations. We need, as the Bill from the noble Lord, Lord Lilley, implies, long-term funding strategies that may involve some kind of government-backed insurance solution. Others have spoken about the insecure employment of care workers. It is essential that care work is properly funded and that care workers themselves have good contracts in order to facilitate high-quality care.

In summary, I thank the noble Lord, Lord Lilley, for the work he has done to prepare this Bill and trust that it can be used to assist the Government in their own planning for their intended social care reforms. I ask the Minister to outline a more detailed timetable for when the Government’s reforms are to be brought to Parliament, which would make the Bill before us today unnecessary. We need a strategy that will support not only home owners but renters with savings and those on low incomes, rather than a piecemeal approach, which I fear would be an unintended consequence of this Bill.