Sajid Javid, who replaced Matt Hancock as Health Secretary last weekend, has been tipped to make the breakthrough by former colleagues as he is without an “ego” and has experience in both the Treasury and other government departments to form a compromise, the Daily Telegraph has reported. When he was Communities Secretary, he was instrumental in pressing ahead with a social care precept that triggered a two percent increase to council tax bills to cover care costs, suggesting he could be open to a similar move now.
But one former colleague of Mr Javid, who has worked closely with him on policy issues, claimed he could be instrumental in forming a breakthrough in the standoff between Number 10 and 11.
They said: “He’s a team player. He’s not a conciliator but he knows how to find a way through.
“He’s a problem solver. There are too few of those people in the Government.
“Everyone wants their pomp and celebration. He has got a policy brain. That is what health needs right now. He is not an ego.”
A second ally of Mr Javid said of his relationship with Mr Johnson and Mr Sunak: “He’s someone who is trusted by both those senior people in government.
“It might be quite helpful for bringing those different perspectives together.”
Speaking for the first time as Health Secretary in the House of Commons earlier this week, Mr Javid insisted social care reform “remains an absolute priority” for the Government, pouring cold water over claims he wants to delay the proposals.
He said “sustainable funding” needs to be part of the solution.
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There is growing frustration between Number 10 and the Treasury over the delays in proposals to cover the cost – estimated to be as high as £10billion – with new taxes.
A Treasury source told the newspaper: “Number 10 realises there needs to be a financial solution.
“They begin to explore it but once they get to the fence they walk back down the path and don’t want to do it. So basically it never gets to the resolution stage.
“The cost of it is deemed too high. This is the problem the PM has. He doesn’t want to make enemies or do anything that is not popular. He doesn’t want to take the political pain.”
A crunch meeting on social care reform took place between the Prime Minister, Chancellor Rishi Sunak and then-Health Secretary Matt Hancock last Thursday, the Daily Telegraph has reported.
But despite this, officials from all three Government departments have claimed an imminent breakthrough on the issue is still unlikely.
Mr Johnson still backs reforms put forward by Sir Andrew Dilnot a decade ago, which would see lifetime care costs capped and increase the threshold for when the state steps in to help.
Tory backbenchers are opposing plans to raise taxes, who want the overall tax burden to fall as the economy continues to bounce back from the Covid pandemic.
A Health Department source played down the possibility of Mr Javid backing a tax rise, insisting he had only been Health Secretary for under a week and would carefully look at social care reform plans.