Last reviewed 8 September 2021

The Government has published Build Back Better: Our Plan for Health and Social Care, which gives an overview of how it intends to tackle the electives backlog in the NHS, put the NHS on a sustainable footing, and gives more detail on a plan for adult social care in England.

The document describes plans for a new “Health and Social Care Levy”, to be ring-fenced for health and social care. From April 2022, the new UK-wide 1.25% levy will be introduced. This will be based on National Insurance (NI) contributions, and from 2023 will be legislatively separate. All working adults, including those over the state pension age, will pay the levy, and the rates of dividend tax will also increase by 1.25% to help fund the package.

This will raise around £12 billion in extra funding per year, to be invested in frontline health and social care across the UK over the next three years. Of this, £5.4 billion over the three years is earmarked for social care, which leaves around £10.2 billion a year for the NHS to help with the electives backlog. Once the NHS backlog begins to clear, ministers say more of the money will go to social care.

In England, 5.5 million people are currently waiting for treatment, which is at least 900,000 more than before the pandemic. The plan says NHS capacity will be increased to 110% of planned activity levels by 2023/24. The new funding is expected to cover an extra nine million checks, scans, and operations. This is in addition to the historic settlement for the NHS set in 2018, which will see its budget rise by £33.9 billion a year by 2023/24.

In terms of social care reform, the announcement means no one in England will have to pay more than £86,000 over the course of their lifetime, according to the plan.

The state will cover all care costs for anyone with assets under £20,000, and anyone with assets between £20,000 and £100,000 will have to contribute to the cost of their care but will also get support, which will be means-tested. The £100,000 limit is over four times higher than the current limit of £23,250, so more people will be eligible than under the current system.

The plan also sets out how the social care workforce will receive new training and qualification opportunities, offering the opportunity to progress and improve, while giving a better standard of care.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson also clarified that the NHS and social care system in England will be brought closer together. An integration white paper will be published later this year.

The Government will also work with the devolved administrations to address treatment backlogs and improve care for the elderly.

Also, a detailed plan will come out later in the autumn to enable local authorities and other providers to “invest in technology, innovative methods of care and in their workforce”.