Greater Manchester could trial ‘free’ social care

Greater Manchester could become the first place in the UK to axe charges and provide ‘free’ social care.

The radical proposals tabled by Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham would involve axing charges, introducing a new care tax or levy and ending 15-minute home visits.

Mr Burnham says the new model of social care would provide “fully free care at the point of use for all of your life”, and wants ministers to trial it in the region.

The former Labour party health minister believes his plan gives government the answer to the country’s growing social care issues, and would avoid people having to sell their homes to pay for social care.

Under the blueprint – the brainchild of Wigan council leader Lord Peter Smith – funding would no longer be split between the NHS and the social care system.

Instead it would be paid to the NHS in one lump sum, which Mr Burnham believes would incentivise it to fund home care properly and keep people out of hospital.

Mr Burnham is asking government to consider the idea in the upcoming budget, arguing that the UK should look at a different way of funding social care.

He told the Manchester Evening News: “I don’t think we will ever solve it while we wait for peace to break out at national level and I believe I can do it.

“I’m going to make government an offer, which is to make Greater Manchester a trial for the reform of the funding of social care.

“It would mean nobody worrying about social care charges or whether they can keep a large part of their home and savings. People can’t plan at the moment.

“Theresa May does need to come back to this issue after what happened in the general election and for us, it takes away the party political bit. This would provide fully free care at the point of use all of your life.”

Mr Burnham wants an end to the current situation in which hospitals are paid a ‘tariff’ for each day a patient is in hospital – while at the same time social care, which is overseen by councils, remains under-funded.

Greater Manchester is facing a shortfall of more than £1bn in its social care budget, leading to increased levels of delayed discharges (more commonly known as bed-blocking) where a patient is well enough to leave hospital but has to remain there due to a lack of social care provision.