Social care cuts went too far, former health secretary admits

Author: Ingrid Torjesen

Former health secretary Jeremy Hunt admitted last night that some of his cuts to social care during the government’s programme of austerity when demands on services were continuing to rise "did go too far".

He said that some local authorities do now need more money and that there should be better provision for mental health services.

Hunt made the admission during a BBC debate with the five remaining contenders for the Conservative leadership. During the debate members of the public from the country were beamed in on a large screen to ask the five candidates questions.

The format for the debate saw members of the public chosen to ask questions to the five candidates.

One of these was Tina in Tunbridge Wells who has fostered more than 100 children, who asked Tory leadership candidates about cuts to health and social care. She said important issues were "going under the radar" because of Brexit, and that she struggled to get help with mental health services, special educational needs support and medical appointments.

The BBC's Emily Maitlis asked Michael Gove, Sajid Javid, Rory Stewart, Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt how they would improve provision if they took over from Theresa May.

Hunt, now foreign secretary but formerly the country’s longest serving health secretary, said “some of the cuts in social care did go too far” and said that social care would be one of his top priorities should he become prime minister.

Mr Stewart also signalled that he would make social care a priority saying that it needed “considerably more money”. Boris Johnson said he agree “very strongly” with Hunt on social care, and Sajid Javid said he had relied on public services his whole life and pledged to “reset spending”.

Commenting on Hunt’s admission, Labour MP Andrew Gwynne, shadow secretary for communities and local government tweeted: “Surely he meant to say, ‘I’m sorry *I* cut social care funding too much’?”

Image courtesy of UK Parliament, (CC BY 3.0) licence