Auto-enrolment shows the way on social care, health secretary says

By Michael Klimes

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May 07, 2019

Auto-enrolment provides a model the government might introduce for social care, says health secretary Matt Hancock.

Lawmakers on the economic affairs committee asked Hancock to explain how the government might introduce an effective social care policy.

Hancock explained the way the Turner Commission, a cross-party committee on auto-enrolment, found a consensus on pensions saving which appealed to him.

He said: “I have been attracted to auto-enrolment as there are similarities to the issue of social care. Many people do not understand this area of finance and so government sets a norm of what happens, and people can opt out. The excellent reform of pensions showed how it works.”

Lawmakers also asked Hancock what he thought about the models the government was considering for social care.

They mentioned a paper published by the Centre for Policy Studies and authored by MP Damian Green who argues people should contribute to their social care the way they save for the state pension.

In response Hancock said: “The models in Japan and Germany are similar to the one Damian Green proposed on Monday.”

Hancock also said he wished the government’s delayed green paper on social care had already been published as it is such a longstanding problem, but Brexit got in the way of that.

He added: “What I would like to do is bring a green paper on social care that builds a consensus on the way forward. The evidence I have seen suggests 50 per cent of the population believe they will be looked after for free. There is a low level of information about the cost of social care. Of course education is needed just like there was with the auto-enrolment of pensions.

“The benefits of a good social care system accrue over decades but the problems of setting it up is short term. Building consensus take a long time, especially in this parliament.”

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