Time for excuses on social care reform is over, Labour warns Prime Minister

Boris Johnson has been warned the “time for excuses is over” as Labour pressed him to urgently bring forward his social care reform plans.

Health minister Helen Whately outlined her “hugely ambitious” desires for the care system, which include giving people “choices” about how they live their lives.

She again failed to give a specific timetable and only reiterated proposals will be brought forward “later this year”.

For Labour, shadow health minister Liz Kendall (pictured)  told the Commons: “It is 100 weeks since the Prime Minister promised to ‘fix the crisis in social care’ with a plan he had already prepared to give people ‘the dignity and security they deserve’.

“Since then, almost 42,000 care home residents have died from Covid-19, two million people have applied for support but had their request refused, tens of thousands have had to sell their home to pay for care, families have hit breaking point, and staff have been appallingly let down.”

Ms Kendall said nine out of 10 councils say they face care budget cuts this year, before claiming ministers “can’t even be bothered to have a meeting to finally come up with the goods”, adding: “That isn’t delivering dignity – it’s abdicating responsibility.”

She pressed for details on when the Government’s plan will emerge, adding: “The time for excuses is over. When will the Government deliver?”

Ms Whately, amid reports a meeting on social care between the Prime Minister, Chancellor Rishi Sunak and Health Secretary Matt Hancock had been delayed, said: “We are determined to bring forward proposals for social care reform, we’ve been absolutely clear we shall do that.

“(Ms Kendall) asked about a particular meeting – actually the Health Secretary and the Prime Minister talk about social care reform all the time.

“In fact, I spoke to the Prime Minister just last week about social care reform but these are complex matters.”

Conservative former health secretary Jeremy Hunt, who chairs the Health Select Committee, said: “The NHS will fail in its objective to deal with the Covid backlog if the social care system continues to export its most vulnerable patients to our hospitals, filling up hospital beds that then cannot be used to deal with the enormous backlog of cancer and other operations that we have.”

Mr Hunt added: “The founding principle of the NHS – no matter who you are, rich, poor, young, old, you should be able to access the care you need – is fundamentally undermined by the way we treat people with dementia at the moment, where people who are wealthy are able to pay expensive care home fees, but people of limited means find they are cleaned out of absolutely everything when a loved one gets dementia.”

Ms Whately said the Government wants to address the “costly” care faced by those who suffer from dementia and need support for many years.

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