In an interview with online magazine The Elder, shadow care minister, Barbara Keeley, has defended Labour’s ability to afford its social care spending plans.

Labour is proposing free personal care for the elderly and has also pledged to cap total care costs at £100,000 for any individuals paying for their care.

In the long-term, the party is also looking to nationalise the social care system, with the ambition for a National Care Service.

Labour’s policy for social care has been projected to cost £10.8 billion a year by 2023-24, funded by income tax – charged to those earning more than £80,000 a year. 

Many commentators are unsure the party will be able to deliver £1.2 trillion of total spending commitments over the next Parliament, while Paul Johnson, head of the Institute for Fiscal Studies, called into question the scope of the policy, for not covering so-called ‘hotel costs’ charged by care homes. 

Keeley’s interview comes as the Liberal Democrats proposed smaller increases in health and social care spending, and the Conservatives have faced criticism by some for delaying reform of the sector.

Defending Labour’s policy, Keeley said: “Most people believe that the state should cover the cost, and this is particularly true for people with low levels of savings. Labour believes that social care is a vital public service, which is why we propose to fund it through general taxation.”

She added: “Any perception that there isn’t the money isn’t correct. We don’t think that way about the health service where we talk of adding £26 billion funding. The overall aim of the National Care Service is to increase the number of people who can live independently and stay in their own home.”

However, Pete Dowds, chief executive of The Elder, who conducted the interview, questioned the impact on innovation in the care sector. He said: “Innovation, not nationalisation, is crucial to solving the care crisis. And as well as money, we need to rethink what it actually means to grow old – where and how we’re going to live.”

He added: “As the population ages, it’s not going to be possible to raise the money, build the building, and recruit the staff fast enough for the traditional care home to be the solution.”