Further delays to social care overhaul predicted

Further delays to social care overhaul predicted

Continued delays on government proposals to reform the funding of adult social care are likely to continue over the course of 2020, Just Group has warned.

The social care funding issue has been dragged out over the course of last year with the green paper, which was originally expected in summer 2018, never being published.

Instead the government pledged to address the issue but disclosed sparse details in its Queen's Speech in October. It subsequently outlined a three-point plan in the December Queen's Speech, though made few concrete suggestions even then.

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The frustration felt by the industry could continue in 2020, according to Stephen Lowe, group communications director at Just Group.

Speaking ahead of December's Queen's Speech, Mr Lowe said: “Continued delays to government proposals on reforms of the long-term care market have become a major frustration and this disappointment could easily continue through 2020 even with a new government in place. 

“Providing quality, affordable care to our rapidly growing population of older people is a huge challenge but one that needs to be addressed as soon as possible and that relies on politicians making some tough choices.”

Back in October Health secretary Matt Hancock suggested the government was focused on finding a solution to the social care problem and wanted to introduce swift legislation rather than consulting on the issue, hence the green paper was never published.

Mr Lowe said next year the government must make social care legislation one of its priorities.

He said: “This is a time to hope for better things to come – finding a way out of the current care crisis needs to be every policymaker’s New Year resolution.”

Steven Cameron, pensions director at Aegon, was also hopeful for policy proposals to be put forward next year which could in turn see more people turn to advisers.

Mr Cameron said: “As our society ages and more of us can expect to need care in later life, we all need to understand what the government will pay for and what we’ll be expected to pay ourselves, ideally capped, so we can plan ahead. 

“This could fundamentally change the whole decumulation market and create a huge need for advice.”

The Independent Care Group has put pressure on the new Conservative government to make a legally binding commitment to tackle the social care issue, like it has done with its spending commitment to the NHS.

Mike Padgham, chair of the membership group, said: “Boris Johnson promising to raise spending on the NHS by almost £34bn by 2023/24 is an excellent commitment, especially as he plans to make it a legally-binding commitment in the Queen’s Speech.

“But unless he is prepared to make a similar, legally-binding commitment to social care too he will undermine whatever is promised for the NHS.”

The group has argued that failing to properly fund social care put added burden on NHS services and threatened to undo the benefits achieved by investing more into this service.