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Tuesday 25th October 2016

Launch of the National Care Service

31st March 2010

In the biggest change to the welfare state since the creation of the NHS, everyone who needs care when they are old or disabled will get it for free, Health Secretary Andy Burnham has announced as he launched the National Care Service in England.


Andy Burnham said:

"Today we are launching a National Care Service that is fair for all, ending the cruel care lottery we have today. Like the NHS, everyone will contribute and everyone will get their care for free when they need it. This is the biggest change to the welfare state since 1948 and, like the NHS, it’s going to take time to build.
"We’re not replacing the millions of carers or families who look after each other. They are the underlying principle of the National Care Service and we will better support them.

"We’ve already laid strong foundations through reforms over the past few years. But, with an ever growing older population – there will be 1.7 million more people needing care in the next 20 years – we must radically overhaul the way care is paid for and provided.

"I feel very strongly that this is a responsibility we must all help to shoulder. And it’s clear from what we have heard from the thousands of people who have given us their opinions on this over the past twelve months, that people agree. That’s why we know that the fairest way to help everyone who is affected by a serious disease, illness or disability is for us all to pay into a system so we get free care when we need it.'

The cost of care is currently a cruel lottery. No one has any way of knowing how much care and support they may need in the future. A 65-year-old can expect to need care costing on average £30,000 during retirement. However, some people, for example people with severe dementia, could end up needing care costing as much as £200,000.

The National Care Service will put an end to this unfair system. It will be built on strong foundations of recent reforms and will overhaul the way care and support is paid for and provided. It cannot be built overnight and will be phased in three stages:

Stage One

  • Build on the best of the current system through reforms that are already underway and deliver the Personal Care at Home Bill.

Stage Two

  • From 2014 extend the coverage of free care so that people will receive free care if they need to stay in residential care for more than two years.
  • Set up a commission to support consensus and advise the government on the fairest and most sustainable way that people can make their contribution to a care system which is free when they need it.
  • Set up a National Care Service Leadership Group of expert stakeholders who will advise Government on the implementation of the National Care Service, focussing on the systems and business processes that need to be put in place to make the National Care Service a reality.
  • Introduce a National Care Service Bill to set the legal foundations of the National Care Service.
  • Enshrine in law for the first time nationally consistent eligibility criteria for social care helping to remove the postcode lottery of care that exists now.
  • Push forward with the prevention agenda and continue the drive towards personal budgets so that by 2012 everyone who would benefit from a personal budget will have one.
  • Ensure accurate, relevant and accessible information about what people are entitled to, how the assessment process works and how to access care services is provided to everyone.
  • We want to improve the gateway for accessing social care and disability benefits to make simpler and easier for people.
  • Introduce a quality framework including a body to drive up quality in social care.

Stage Three

  • The introduction of a comprehensive National Care Service that is free when they need it for all adults with an eligible care need, funded by contributions.

Following the biggest ever consultation on care and support that saw over 68,000 members of the public, carers and representative organisations have their say, it is clear that people believe it is right that everyone should contribute to a care system that is free when people need it– similar to the NHS. However, the necessary consensus on how people should pay into such a system has not yet been reached. A National Care Service Commission, will therefore be established to advise Ministers on the fairest and most sustainable way for people to do so.

Care Services Minister Phil Hope said:

"We must find a fair way of funding the National Care Service. The stakes are very high.  That’s why we must have a clear consensus. We are setting up a commission to tell us what would be a fair way for everyone to pay into this new system.

"Everyone will pay into it in a fair way and in return everyone will then have peace of mind that their savings and homes will be protected from high care costs. The whole of society will benefit and the National Care Service will support individuals and families for generations to come.'

The National Care Service will have six founding principles. It will:

  • Be universal – supporting all adults with care and support needs within a framework of national entitlements.
  • Be free at the point of use – based on need, rather than the ability to pay.
  • Work in partnership – with all the different organisations and people who support individuals with care and support needs day-to-day.
  • Ensure choice and control – treating everyone with respect and dignity, ,putting people in charge of their lives.
  • Support family, carers and community life – recognising the vital contribution families, carers and communities play in enabling people to realise their potential.
  • Be accessible – easy to understand, helping people make the right choices.


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