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Govt criticised for dragging feet on social care

Govt criticised for dragging feet on social care

The House of Lords has criticised government for “neglecting” adult social care after it failed to set out plans for reform in last week's Queen’s Speech.

In a debate on the Queen's Speech in the House of Lords last night (October 22), many peers hauled up the government over the lack of detail and attention adult social care was given in the speech last week (October 14).

The government had announced that it will introduce changes to social care to "ensure dignity in old age".

But besides a planned 2 per cent precept that will enable councils to access a further £500m, no detail was given on what would be included as part of the proposals.

Peers were disappointed that no clear proposals were outlined and that no timeframe was given as to when the government will present its plans.

Some peers complained about how they were meant to discuss these plans when no detail was given.

Baroness Greengross said: “While I welcome the additional funding that the government has announced for social care, what legislation can this house expect to scrutinise in this session—or, perhaps I should say, the next session of parliament? 

“Over the past 25 years, we have seen a lot of policy reports on how to reform adult social care ​but little substantive action.”

Others complained that the long-awaited social care green paper was still nowhere to be seen.

This was despite health secretary Matt Hancock suggesting previously the paper may be scrapped in favour of legislation as the government focused on finding a solution to the problem rather than to discuss it further.

The original rationale for a green paper was to explore the issue of how social care is funded by individuals.

In his first speech as prime minister Boris Johnson had pledged to address social care as a priority.

Baroness Sherlock said: “The prime minister promised us that he had a plan to fix the crisis once and for all, but I see no plan, just endless consultation. 

“One has to assume that the ever-delayed green paper has perhaps finally bitten the dust. If so, we are left with no proposals and no legislative timetable for a social care bill in this parliament. 

“I hope the minister can contradict me because, if not, that simply is not good enough.”

Baroness Watkins of Tavistock stressed social care was a problem that needed to be solved now rather than being pushed into the long grass.

She said: “The government intend to bring forward the green paper proposals to reform adult social care to ensure dignity in old age. This is urgent. What is the planned timetable for this legislation? 

“It is unacceptable in 2019 that dignity in old age should be a vision for the future rather than a right today.”

amy.austin@ft.com

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