King's Fund calls for single health and social care budget

In the report of its Commission on Health and Social Care, the health think tank The King’s Fund has called for a single, ring-fenced budget for the NHS and social care, with a single commissioner for local services., rejecting new NHS charges and private insurance options in favour of public funding. Given the influential nature of the think tank in health, this report is likely to be studied thoroughly by all major parties as they complete their manifestos for next year’s General Election.

To fund such a change, the Commission recommends that higher public spending should be paid for through tax and National Insurance increases, reallocating funds from other areas of spending and changes to prescription charges. In the short term, the Commission proposes that the winter fuel payment and TV licence be means tested, and that National Insurance at a reduced rate be levied for those who work past pension age. National Insurance would be paid at a higher rate for those over 40 and those on higher wages.

The report’s recommendations, many of which chime with current Labour Party policy in the run up to the General Election, have been trailed extensively in the media, with many outlets including The Times (£) reporting on the report’s attack on the current “unjust” system in which cancer care is free but people with dementia must pay, and public confusion over the difference between the NHS and council-run social care.