Jeremy Hunt ‘disappointed’ over progress on social care reform saying it ‘really is now or never’

A former Health Secretary has said he is disappointed that the Government “appears to have made no progress towards a genuine long-term solution to the crisis in social care”.

Jeremy Hunt, chairman of the Health and Social Care Committee, said ministers have failed to substantively address key recommendations from its report on the sector’s funding and workforce issues.

The Conservative MP said he is disappointed that the Government’s response did not provide more detail on its long-term plans for social care, or a detailed timeline for when these will be developed.

The committee’s report, published in October last year, recommended that England’s social care sector needs £7 billion more a year.

Mr Hunt said this would be an “essential starting point for putting social care on a more sustainable long-term footing”.

MPs also recommended the Government bring forward a plan to streamline the training of social care workers, and urgently prioritise tackling problems in the sector.

In response, the Government said it remains committed to “ambitious reform” and will set out proposals later this year.

It also said councils will have access to more than £1 billion additional funding for social care across 2021/22 and it will keep the need for further cash under review.

In a letter to Care Minister Helen Whately, Mr Hunt said it “really is now or never for reform”, adding: “It is very disappointing that the Government has failed to engage with our call to commit to increasing investment in social care by £7 billion a year by the final year of the parliament.

“This is the starting point for wider reforms and we repeat our warning that doing nothing is no longer an option.

“Despite promises, ministers appear to have made no progress towards a genuine long-term solution to this crisis. Resolving it must be set as a priority.

“An intention to announce plans ‘this year’ rings hollow in the absence of detail on process or timescale and the failure to address this alongside NHS reform.”

Ms Whately will appear before the committee next week to discuss workforce burnout in the NHS and social care and Mr Hunt said he hopes she will provide more detail on the Government’s plans for social care during the session.

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