The Government has set out its plans for the biggest catch-up programme in the history of the NHS in England and an overhaul of the social care sector.

– What has been announced?

The Government has pledged to invest £36 billion over the next three years to help the NHS recover from the coronavirus pandemic and reform the adult social care system so people no longer face catastrophic care costs.

From October 2023, nobody will pay more than £86,000 for their social care – regardless of their assets.

The Government will fully cover the cost of care for those with assets under £20,000, and contribute to the cost of care for those with assets of between £20,000 and £100,000.

– Why is this happening?

The NHS waiting list is at an all-time high as the nation recovers from the coronavirus pandemic.

The social care sector has been in need of substantial reform for years, and workforce and sustainability issues have been exacerbated by the recent crisis.

– How will it work?

It will be funded through a UK-wide health and social care levy from April 2022, based on National Insurance contributions paid by working adults.

Between 2022 and 2023 National Insurance rates will rise by 1.25%. From April 2023, the levy will appear as a separate entry on individuals’ pay slips. It is at this point that working adults above pension age will chip in.

The Government is also increasing the rate of dividend tax by 1.25% to ensure people who receive income from dividends make the same contribution.

– How much will I have to pay?

The tax will be progressive, meaning those who earn more will pay more.

For example, a basic rate taxpayer earning £24,100 will contribute £3.46 a week.

A higher rate taxpayer earning £67,100 will contribute £7.15 a week.

– How will the NHS benefit?

The money is expected to fund an extra nine million checks, scans and operations, as well as help the NHS focus on innovation.

– What about social care?

Social care will receive £5.3 billion between 2022-23 and 2024-25.

Less than half of this will fund the minimum floor and cap.

Around £500 million will go towards workforce training and skills, while money will also go towards increasing local authority payment rates, integration and quality.

– When will social care get the money?

The social care sector will receive some of the extra money in the next financial year.

But more money will be diverted to the sector after the three-year window as people hit the cap.

– What are people saying?

The crisis in the care of older and vulnerable adults will not be solved by today’s announcement of a National Insurance increase, campaigners say.

They fear any extra funding for social care will be too late and too small to tackle a crisis in the sector which has left 1.5m people without the care they need and 120,000 care staff vacancies.

The Independent Care Group (ICG) says 30 years of campaigning has led to today’s “damp squib” announcement which did not properly address the crisis.

ICG Chair Mike Padgham said: “This, once again, has been a huge opportunity missed for radical, once in a generation reform of the social care system.

“If reports are to be believed, of the £36bn promised over three years for health and social care from the new levy, only £5.8bn will be for social care.

“That isn’t going to touch the crisis in the sector and will certainly not address the 120,000 vacancies in staffing, which is sending the sector into meltdown on a daily basis as care providers struggle to cover shifts.

“It will not fund the proper recruitment and training of the thousands of staff we need, nor will it allow the sector to properly reward those staff who have played such a vital, life-saving role during Covid-19. It is too little and, it looks like being, too late.

“This levy will not start until next April and the changes to paying for care until the end of next year. None of this is what we need. We need urgent, root and branch reform and we need it now.”

The Government has announced a Health and Social Care Levy to be funded by a 1.25% increase in National Insurance and share dividend taxation. This will create £36bn for health and social care over three years, after the levy comes into effect from April next year.

But the ICG said it feared the bulk of the extra money would immediately be swallowed up by urgent NHS needs, leaving social care to pick up the scraps.

“It was good to hear the Prime Minister say that he wanted to fix the long-term problem of health and social care which has been cruelly exposed by Covid-19 and it was good to hear him say he wanted to end ‘dither and delay’ over social care,” Mr Padgham added.

“But today’s announcement does not do that. Yes, the NHS is urgent, but social care is urgent too and if we do not get the support we need, more and more damage will continue to be inflicted upon the crumbling social care sector and the NHS will be left to pick up the pieces anyway.

“We have waited 30 years and currently have 1.5m people not getting the care they need, we should not have to wait any longer.

“We didn’t want to hear that plans for long-awaited integration of health and social care would be outlined in a White Paper, ‘later this year’.”