Government committed to social care reform this year despite delaying crucial meeting, Ministers insist

Ministers have insisted that the Government is committed to delivering proposals for social care reform before the end of the year, after MPs were told that a “crucial” meeting on its future had been postponed.

Health and Social Care Select Committee chairman Jeremy Hunt said the meeting between Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Chancellor Rishi Sunak and Health Secretary Matt Hancock “to resolve the future of the social care system” was delayed.

He asked mental health minister Nadine Dorries: “We don’t know why – should people worry that that meeting didn’t happen?

She replied: “No. The Prime Minister – this Government – is committed to providing reform to social care before the end of this year.

“So, by the end of 2021, the answers to the questions will be there, and the reforms will be there.

“But, chair, as you know when you were secretary of state for health, I’m sure you lost count of the number of meetings you had to postpone in your diary, for various reasons such as the data wasn’t available or you didn’t have information you wanted to make a good judgment.

“I don’t know what the reason was, but I do know the absolute commitment by the end of this year is there to introduce social care reform. It will happen.”

Care groups, charities and politicians have long been calling for a plan, as promised by the Mr Johnson in his first speech after being elected Prime Minister in July 2019.

On Monday, social care leaders in England called on the Government to publish its proposed reforms of the sector before Parliament breaks for the summer.

In a letter to Mr Johnson, Mr Sunak and Mr Hancock, leaders of organisations representing adult social care providers said the time for reform is now.

Earlier on Tuesday, Mr Hancock (pictured) declined to answer whether the meeting had been postponed and said he and Mr Johnson are working “very closely together” on the issue.

“Absolutely I am not going to get into diary management,” Mr Hancock told Sky News.

“I talk to the Prime Minister every single day and we’re working very closely together on the delivery of this policy.

“We absolutely were working on the plan before the pandemic struck, but you will understand, and your viewers will undoubtedly understand, that when the pandemic struck it was all hands on deck to protect lives and to get us out of this as fast as possible, and the vaccine is doing that.

“The Prime Minister has committed to delivering this plan before the end of the year and we’re going to do that.”

Responding to Mr Hancock, shadow social care minister Liz Kendall said: “After a decade of failure, the time for Conservative excuses has long passed. Ministers must bring forward plans as a matter of urgency, and provide all older and disabled people with the dignity and security they deserve.”

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