Social care  

Government misses deadline for social care paper

Government misses deadline for social care paper

Concerns are rising over how much the government will commit to social care after it missed yet another deadline, the fifth to date, to publish its green paper.

The paper on long-term reform of the care funding system was initially due to be published last summer, but it has since faced several delays.

Most recently Health secretary Matt Hancock had told the House of Commons he would publish the green paper before this April, however this promise has failed to materialise, and no new timeline has yet been announced.

In February, Caroline Dinenage, Member of Parliament for Gosport, hinted "unforeseen circumstances" could delay the paper’s publication.

She said the government had taken some time to get the "big decisions" right to ensure the social care system remained sustainable in the long term, claiming she shared frustrations at the delay.

In December, the government had pointed to Brexit as the cause of the delays

In the latest Spring Statement the Chancellor said the topic would be included in the next spending review but Rachael Griffin, tax and financial planning expert at Quilter, said without a clear timeline she had little confidence in the government's pledges.

She said missing a deadline for the fifth time logically led to questions of competence.

She said: "The delay, sadly, comes as no surprise. This paper has consistently fallen to the wayside and with Brexit being the all-consuming political focus domestic policy in general has taken a back seat.

"In the recent Spring Statement the Chancellor gave social care a cursory nod as he announced it will be included as part of a three year spending review to be published alongside the next budget.

"What remains dramatically unclear is how the Chancellor can figure out how much to set aside for social care when the illusory green paper hasn’t even been published yet."

However Ms Griffin said the spending review had the capacity to drastically change the conversation around the green paper and social care policy, as it would force policymakers to find a solution that fits the budget.

She said: "This is not necessarily a bad thing as it moves the conversation forward. However, what we cannot have is conversations around this crucial area of policymaking to come to yet another grinding halt.

"We need a timeframe that commits to delivering the paper and not one that is another false start. The weight of the concern about how to pay for care should not be underestimated. It impacts not just those that need care, but the loved ones around them who must fill in the gap,."

Several solutions to social care are said to be on the table, including a ‘Care Isa’ – a capped savings product, exempt from inheritance tax – and a 'care pension', which mixes drawdown and care insurance.

There have also been calls for a 'Social Care Premium’, effectively a new tax on people over the age of 40.