Eluned Morgan MS, Minister for Health and Social Services
Julie Morgan MS, Deputy Minister for Social Services
We value social care in Wales. We recognise the importance of having a vibrant and thriving social care system, which provides excellent quality care, supports an attractive and rewarding work and is closely integrated with the NHS and the broader public sector.
We have consistently invested in the social care sector, introducing a cap on domiciliary care costs and ensuring people can keep more of their own hard-earned savings before paying for their own care. Our Programme for Government sets out ambitious plans for social care in this term, including paying social care staff a real living wage.
We welcome the expectation of additional and more secure funding for social care in the future as a result of the UK Government’s decision to increase National Insurance contributions from April 2022. These will become a health and social care levy from April 2023.
However, we are concerned that increasing National Insurance contributions will place new financial burdens on the lowest paid workers – the starting threshold for paying National Insurance contributions is lower than the personal allowance for Income Tax. It also places a significant cost burden on employers at a time when the economy is trying to recover from the pandemic.
Although the increase in National Insurance contributions, which will start from April 2022, together with an in-year uplift in funding for the NHS in England, bring with it the prospect of increased funding for services in Wales, we must wait for the outcome of the UK Government’s Comprehensive Spending Review before we have any certainty about the exact amount of funding Wales will receive as a consequence.
The UK Government announced proposed revisions to the adult social care charging regime in England, which will affect the assets and savings of people in England. The Prime Minister announced a guaranteed level of assets individuals will be able to keep in England if these proposed changes come into play of £20,000. The charging system we have in Wales is different – our limits in Wales are already more generous than the asset limits set out by the Prime Minister.
We will consider the detailed implications of the UK Government proposals, including the potentially complex cross-border issues and how the UK Government proposals interact with the welfare and benefits system. These are not devolved matters, but have a significant impact for the people of Wales.
A significant amount of work has already been undertaken in Wales to look at the long-term options for social care in Wales through the Inter-Ministerial Group on Paying for Social Care during the last Senedd term.
The First Minister has decided the Inter Ministerial Group will be reconvened to consider the next steps for Wales.