Tory MPs pressure Boris Johnson to end ‘Groundhog Day’ approach to social care reform

Boris Johnson has come under increasing pressure from Tory MPs to deliver long-promised social care reforms.

Conservative former health minister Jackie Doyle-Price said it was “high time that we really tackled this issue” while colleague Anne Marie Morris insisted a solution must be found instead of further reports.

Huw Merriman, Conservative MP for Bexhill and Battle, added he hopes the Government can deliver change even if cross-party talks fail to reach agreement.

Their pleas came as Labour reiterated they are happy to sit down” with ministers to discuss their proposals, which include free personal care.

Shadow health minister Barbara Keeley also warned thousands of people facing “catastrophic” costs could have to sell their home as they wait for the Government to bring forward social care reforms.

Speaking in the Commons, Ms Doyle-Price told MPs: “I feel like I’m in Groundhog Dog at the moment.

“It is disappointing that we are still debating the very same issues that we were then.

“Now, of course, there has been much water under the bridge in our broader politics in that time but in respect of social care, to coin a phrase, nothing has changed.”

She added: “I think a lot of the issues that we have with this sector is that we’re not really investing in the right kind of supported housing environments that would enable more people to live independently.”

Ms Morris (Newton Abbot) said people listening to the debate expected MPs to act for them.

She said: “We have a majority this Government and with that comes a responsibility to finally resolve this social care problem, we have to find a solution.

“No more reports, more royal commissions.”

Mr Merriman also said: “It is the most vulnerable, the elderly, the people that have worked hard all of their lives who are now lacking in dignity in this system because we just haven’t got enough money in place.

“We have not delivered the reforms that people talk about in this place constantly, but we still fail to enact and I very, very much hope that this Government, hopefully on a cross-party basis but if that doesn’t reach fruition, then we will put our own principles, our own policies, our own devotion to the people that I’m talking about so that we give them and the generations to come a better future.”

Tory former minister Sir Desmond Swayne earlier asked why the Government did not implement the recommendations of the 2011 Dilnot Commission to limit the lifetime cost of individuals’ social care.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock replied: “The honest truth is that decision was made in the 2015 to 2017 Parliament and it was a decision the Government made at the time, and I think that we need to take action to sort this problem and that’s what we’re planning to do.”

Opening the debate, Ms Keeley said: “As local authorities struggle to fund social care, an increasing number of people are forced to take on the financial burden themselves, 143,000 people are currently faced with catastrophic costs of over £100,000 for their own care.

“Over the past three years, 9,000 people have asked their local authority for help after completely depleting their own savings to pay for their care.

“This means that people are having to sell the homes they may have lived in for their entire life to fund the care they need.

“This is a situation the Prime Minister has promised to stop.

“But with no plans and no proposals for how he achieves this, it’s likely many more people will be put in this position going forward.”

Closing the debate, health minister Helen Whately urged parties to work together to tackle to problems in social care.

She told MPs: “We will fix the crisis in social care, we will deliver the funding that’d needed now to stabilise the system, we will find a long-term solution to growing need for care and seek to build a cross-party consensus on this.

“We have committed to the pre-requisite of the solution that no-one needing care will have to sell their home to pay for that care.”

Copyright (c) PA Media Ltd. 2020, All Rights Reserved. Picture (c) Adrian Dennis / PA Wire.

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