It has been a pleasure for us to sit here for the past four hours and exercise by seeking to catch your eye, Madam Deputy Speaker, no doubt contributing towards alleviating our future social care needs.
In the next 20 years the population of England alone will increase by 10%. The number of over-75s in England will increase by 60%, which is an extra 2.7 million people. In 2020-21 there were 1.9 million inquiries for social care in England. The system is creaking. A third of my constituents are over the age of 65.
This tells us that we need to act now, and I applaud the Government for taking decisive action now. I have concerns about the action we are taking, but we need to act now and the Government are acting now.
I have three concerns about this particular measure. First, we have a health and social care levy that will, in its initial existence, go towards health. I am concerned about when we take that money out of the NHS and put it into social care. We know how difficult it was to convince people that a temporary lift to universal credit was just temporary. How on earth are we going to challenge the equivalents of Marcus Rashford when it comes to the NHS and persuade people that it is not a cut but was always the plan for a period of time before moving the money into social care? There does not seem to be any guarantee on that, and I am concerned that it will be politically difficult for any Government to do so.
Secondly, I am concerned about the intergenerational unfairness that could be seen in this measure. Along with others here in the Chamber, I have advocated a measure that looks for retired people who have a nest egg to pay more for the service they use, rather than expecting the younger cohort, through national insurance, to have to pay for it when they do not have a home of their own.
The German model was built because of the regional imbalances of reunification, and the Germans considered this model and made a provision that everybody would pay in, workers and employers—the retired had to pay both parts—and no one would have to pay more than €138 a month. That took the political heat out of the system, and it uses the private insurance market for delivery. People are incentivised to look after their parents in their own home, and they can take money from the insurance fund to do so. I would like to look further at that model.
If that does not work for the more catastrophic situations, what about the noble Lord Lilley’s proposal of taking a charge against the property, so that a premium is paid out—he estimated about £16,000—and on death the charge is released from the sale of the property?
Both plans look more towards the people using the service having to pay into it. Those who are older would see the fairness of that, because it is their children and grandchildren who have to pay the national insurance.
Thirdly, I am concerned about the overall tax take. We will have to rein in public spending, as this has to stop. We need to allocate money towards the NHS with strict criteria on where it will be spent, because it cannot be right that a 27-year-old graduate who is paying back their tuition fees is seeing 42% of their pay go towards tax. That is not what Conservatives set out to do; we set out to give people the opportunity to build dreams.
That said, we need to act now and I recognise that the health service needs an injection of funding. I will be supporting the Government, but I want to see my three proposals developed before it is too late.