‘Absolutely essential’ Liz Truss follows through on promised social care reforms – Andrew Dilnot

The Prime Minister has been warned not to row back on key social care reforms as this would be to “abandon some of the most vulnerable people in our society”.

Sir Andrew Dilnot (pictured) said pulling back on promised reforms would be “deeply regrettable”, and that he hopes Liz Truss is the PM who “finally” sees through substantial change for the sector.

Sir Andrew led a review into the future of funding social care under the coalition government and was the architect of the original plans for a care cap.

He said it is “absolutely essential” the current Government’s planned reforms, while “less generous” than those he set out, go ahead as scheduled.

These include an £86,000 cap on personal care cost contributions, and an expanded means test that is more generous than the existing one, to come into effect from October 2023.

Giving evidence at the Lords’ Committee on Adult Social Care, he said: “Any pulling back on that, particularly given that the new Prime Minister said that she thought that more of the money that had been allocated, was to be raised by the health and social care levy, should go to social care… any pulling back on that I think would be deeply regrettable, and I hope that there won’t be any such pulling back.

“To pull back on that would be to abandon some of the most vulnerable people in our society, not to receive a promise that has been made to them repeatedly.

“Let’s hope that this Prime Minister is the Prime Minister who finally sees through some significant reform of social care.”

Last week the County Council Network – supportive of the reforms – called for them to be delayed, citing a “perfect storm” of staffing and financial pressures.

Sir Andrew said social care needs an extra £6 billion, spread over three years.

While this represents “a lot more money” for the sector, it is small relative to the Government’s overall budget.

He said the problem with current funding is it is insufficient and delivered “all too often in dribs and drabs in the short run”.

The main political parties in England have “simply not had the courage” to allocate the level of funds required, with “noisier calls” from other parts of the public sector, including the health service.

The current means-tested system, which he said has been under-funded for at least decade, is “now close to being in a state of collapse”, he warned.

He continued: “The decisions that we’re asking local authority offices to make about how to allocate inadequate resources across people with enormous need are not, I think, decisions that it’s in the end reasonable to expect public servants to have to make.”

Sir Andrew said relying on local authorities to raise funds is problematic because often the places where money is most needed are the places where it is least available.

He said more money must be invested into the existing means-tested system, adding: “If we don’t do that, the system that we’re expanding by making the means test more generous in October of next year by introducing the cap, will have fallen over. And that seems crazy.”

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “Reforming social care is a priority. That’s why we’re backing the sector with £5.4 billion over the next three years to support our planned reforms, bolster the workforce and protect people from unpredictable care costs.

“We are working with local authorities, our charging reform trailblazers, care providers and other stakeholders – including the Local Government Association – to implement the changes and make sure everyone can access the care they need, when they need it.”

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