Government risks prolonging social care crisis as reform plans leave people ‘in the dark’

The Government risks prolonging the social care crisis by holding cross-party talks, a charity said as it accused the Conservatives of leaving people “in the dark”.

An additional £1 billion will be made available for social care every year of the new Parliament alongside reforms that will ensure people have the “dignity and security they deserve and that no-one who needs care has to sell their home to pay for it”, the Government said.

Ministers will seek cross-party consensus on proposals for long-term reform of social care, but no precise details on how the Government would meet its pledge were set out in the Queen’s Speech.

The Local Government Association offered to host the cross-party talks and warned that Brexit should not delay the delivery of funding and reform which “secures the future” of social care.

Charities urged the Government to make reform “an immediate priority”, more than two years after promises of a social care green paper.

Jonathan Blades, external relations manager at the MS Society, said: “We’re pleased to see the Conservatives will be investing vital funds in the NHS.

“But it’s been years since we were first promised a plan on how to fix our failing social care system, and we’re still in the dark.

“Multiple sclerosis is relentless, painful and disabling, and people need this support urgently.

“Unnecessary cross-party talks just prolong the problem. The Government has been given clear solutions, and finally has the power to get legislation passed through Parliament, so why are we still waiting for a system that works?”

Other health experts welcomed the commitment to reach a consensus across party lines but urged the Prime Minister to honour his promise to fix the system with “meaningful” reform.

Jonathan Carr-West (pictured), chief executive of the Local Government Information Unit (LGiU), questioned at what stage plans for social care reform were at.

He said: “A commitment to achieving a cross-party consensus on a sustainable social care system is right, of course, but we’ve heard it all before.

“A social care green paper was initially promised two-and-a-half years ago.

“Are we building on that work or starting again? (And, of course, it’s the NHS, not social care that gets funding enshrined in law.)”

Caroline Abrahams, charity director at Age UK, said “change cannot come too soon” for millions of older and disabled people, their families and carers.

She said: “While we welcome the intention to seek cross-party consensus on such a significant area of reform it is nonetheless vital that whatever the response Government doesn’t falter in its commitment to fix social care.”

Richard Murray, chief executive of The King’s Fund, added: “The additional £1 billion a year to give a short-term boost to social care services for both adults and children is not enough to meet rising demand for care while maintaining quality and accessibility of services.

“The Prime Minister is right to reach across party lines by seeking a cross-party consensus on social care reform but needs to honour his promise to ‘fix the social care crisis once and for all’ by bringing forward meaningful proposals for reform.”

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