The Independent Care Group has called on the government to set an urgent timetable for social care reform, arguing the situation has become “dire” amid Covid-19.
The care provider trade body called on the government to set out a reform package as quickly as possible after NHS chief executive, Sir Simon Stevens, called for plans to be set out within a year.
Mike Padgham, chair of the IGC, said: “We applaud Sir Simon’s call for a social care plan, but ask: why wait for a year? What we need is a plan set out and delivered within a year.
“The sector is in crisis now and has been for some time. We need to see a firm date and the government held accountable for keeping to that date.”
Mr Padgham called on prime minister Boris Johnson to make a similar pledge to that given by then prisons minister Rory Stewart in 2018 when he promised to resign in a year if he failed to reduce the levels of violence and drug use in prisons.
He said: “Boris Johnson, when he first stood on the steps of 10 Downing Street as prime minister, promised to sort out social care once and for all. We are still waiting.
“We have been promised a green paper for years but it has been repeatedly put back and we are still waiting.
"Social care cannot wait any longer. We had a promise from Tony Blair to sort out care in 1997, followed by Gordon Brown in 2008, David Cameron in 2012, Theresa May in 2017 and Boris Johnson in 2019. ”
There have been 13 social care ministers in the past 20 years and at least 13 documents in 17 years, including four independent reviews/commissions, four consultations and five white and green papers, all without any reform coming, Mr Padgham added.
The ICG said the government could start reforms by making social care providers zero-rated for VAT, providing an instant financial saving.
Care providers pay VAT for goods and services but cannot charge VAT themselves to offset some of those costs.
Other priorities for reform could include a root and branch overhaul of the way social care is planned and funded as well as a plan to merge NHS health care and social care.
The ICG also wants to see extra funding for social care, which would be paid for through taxation or national insurance payments, and the introduction of a national scheme to ensure people save for their own care, as they do for a pension.
In a speech last week (June 30), Boris Johnson said he will not wait to fix issues in the social care system that “every government has flunked for the last 30 years” and said the government was currently finalising plans.
Meanwhile, Just Group’s annual care report found among Conservative voters, fewer than half (43 per cent) believed the prime minister would produce a social care policy in this parliament, dropping to 35 per cent who thought he would be able to put it into practice.