Jeremy Hunt wants more money for social care now, but he was in charge for years

The UK’s longest serving Secretary of State for Health says the coronavirus pandemic has brought home the importance of social care to all.

Many people were aware of this before the pandemic, Mr Hunt, yet nothing was done., 1st May 2020, 

As Jeremy Hunt took to the airwaves on Friday morning and praised care workers for looking after the 410,000 people who live in care homes, one can imagine what everyone working in the sector listening to his comments made of them.

When asked whether he would support increased spending in social care, Mr Hunt said: “I will certainly be asking for a proper settlement for the social care sector, because I think that’s something that we all recognise needs to happen, but I also think the Government will want to do that.”

Mr Hunt is, of course, the man who put “Social Care” into the Department of Health and Social Care, when it was renamed in January 2018 – in recent times it always has been technically responsible for social care but the change was supposed to be more than symbolic. As a result, he took over the preparation of the government’s policy paper (known as a green paper) on social care, announced in the March 2017 Budget and due in the summer of 2018.

In the UK, publicly funded social care is mainly paid for by local councils, not the NHS. Local authority spending on adult social care in England fell 8 per cent in real terms between 2009–10 and 2016–17, according to a report by the Institute for Financial Studies, but was protected relative to spending on other local authority services.

The population has been growing, so spending on adult social services per adult fell by 13.5 per cent in England over the same period. This does not take into account that the population is ageing, which will have put additional pressure on adult social care services.

‘Some cuts went too far’

In June last year, as Foreign Secretary and standing against Boris Johnson for the Tory leadership, Mr Hunt admitted during a live debate that “some of the cuts in social care did go too far”. Now he wants a “proper settlement” for the sector.

“One thing that this terrible crisis has brought home to us is the importance of the social care sector,” he said on Friday morning, going on to describe how care workers “put their lives at risk to do incredibly important work, often at very low pay”.

Many people were aware of this before the pandemic, Mr Hunt, yet nothing was done.