Tory grandee tells PM to put hand in Treasury’s pocket to fund creaking social care system

Instead of putting their hands together to clap care workers, the Prime Minister and Chancellor should put them in the Treasury’s pocket to properly fund the creaking system, a Tory former cabinet minister has said.

Expressing his frustration at official delay, Lord Forsyth of Drumlean (pictured) highlighted the urgent need for cash to stop residential homes going under and ease the burden on staff “pressed beyond endurance”.

The Tory grandee pointed out the Government had still not responded to a year-old report by a Lords committee that he heads, which called for an extra £8 billion annually just to get back to the level of a decade ago.

The Economic Affairs Committee had also pressed the administration to draw up “clear and plausible proposals” for sustainable adult social care funding, warning that with each delay the level of unmet need in the system grew.

Lord Forsyth made his criticism as concerns were raised over financial difficulties faced by independent care homes, which have been on the front line of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Conservative peer said his committee’s report into the adult social care system last year had “identified an £8 billion gap just to get back to the standards we had in 2010”.

Tackling the health minister, Lord Forsyth said: “Does he not think that instead of the occupants of Numbers 10 and 11 Downing Street standing on their doorsteps and putting their hands together to clap the achievements of social care workers, their hands should be put in the Treasury’s pocket to find the money now urgently needed to prevent the collapse of nursing homes and to prevent us continuing to rely on the good will and hard work of people who are being pressed beyond endurance?

“This delay cannot go on longer and longer, which has been the pattern for the last decade.”

Responding, Tory frontbencher Lord Bethell said that “under normal circumstances” steps would have been taken to make progress on “this incredibly important issue”.

He added: “However, I cannot hide from my noble friend that the Covid epidemic has disrupted progress, particularly on this delicate issue, which requires a huge amount of management time by senior healthcare officials, who are utterly consumed by Covid at the moment.

“Please be under no illusion that this is a major priority for the Government. Once the preparations for winter are in place, it will be at the top of the list.”

Lord Bethell was also tackled by peers over controversial comments by Boris Johnson when he suggested “too many” care homes did not properly follow procedures during the coronavirus pandemic.

The Prime Minister’s remarks have triggered an angry backlash from the sector.

However, when pressed Lord Bethell refused to be drawn into the row, telling the Lords: “We are enormously grateful to all those working in the care home sector, who have protected residents through this awful epidemic, and we continue to support them.”

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