The Chancellor said he believed delayed welfare reforms would be introduced if the Tories win the next general election, after doubts were cast over their fate.
Jeremy Hunt said it was not “easy” for him to delay implementation of the long-promised social care cap and other pricing reforms for two years.
On Thursday, Mr Hunt said the changes – which he linked to Sir Andrew Dilnot, architect of the original plans for a care cap – would now be rolled out nationwide in October 2025.
But charity Age UK said the delay ‘raises serious questions about whether it will ever be introduced at all’.
And Paul Johnson, director of the Institute for Fiscal Studies, said he feared the delay “would spell the end of these vital changes”.
“The government should not make and then backtrack on promises like this that mean so much to vulnerable people,” he said.
The reforms include an £86,000 cap on contributions for personal care and an expanded means test more generous than the existing one, which was due to come into force from October 2023.
The Chancellor told BBC Radio 4’s Today program on Friday: ‘It’s not disappearing into the ether, but I agree it’s a source of great regret for me.
“I believe that will happen if the Tories win the next general election.”
Mr Hunt insisted he did not ‘passionately’ want to delay reforms, but said he was prepared to do the hard things if they suited the country.
He was reminded of his comments when he was health secretary in 2013 and described the Dilnot reforms as a “watershed moment for our country”, saying that “for too long the issue of social protection has been sidestepped”, leading to an “unjust system that has seen people sell their homes and lose almost everything, with us this injustice ends”.
The Chancellor told BBC Breakfast: ‘I’m not saying it’s an easy thing for me to do given what I said in 2013, but it means we can increase social care globally more than ever in his history.
“Some of these decisions are very difficult for me as Chancellor, I am a Conservative Chancellor who raised taxes, I had to delay these Dilnot welfare reforms, which I did not want to do passionately.
“But I’m doing it because we’re facing an international economic crisis and I recognize that people are worried about the future and I’m ready to do the hard things even if they’re things I personally wouldn’t choose to do. do, because they’re the right thing for the country.