Social care reform has come up against even more delays after a health minister admitted he could not commit to a plan before the end of 2020.
Questioned over the government’s plans in House of Lords this week (September 15), Lord Bethell, parliamentary under secretary of state at the Department of Health and Social Care, said: “I cannot commit to a social care plan before the end of the year.
“It will require a huge amount of political collaboration and I suspect it will take longer than the next few months.”
Mike Padgham, chairman of the Independent Care Group, said this “simply is not good enough”.
He said: “This is yet another betrayal of millions of older and vulnerable people in this country.
“Before coronavirus we knew there were at least 1.5m people living in this country without the care they need. With coronavirus, heaven knows what that figure is now.
“It is now more than a year since Boris Johnson promised to end the social care crisis once and for all and the only thing we have seen is the situation getting worse.
“Under-funded and neglected by government after government, coronavirus exposed a social care system that was already in crisis and plunged it into further despair. Now we are told that there is no hope of even the publication of a plan this year. It simply isn’t good enough.
“We need to see, immediately, the Government’s winter plan for helping social care cope with a much-feared and predicted second wave of coronavirus and then, as a matter of urgency, a full, root and branch overhaul of the social care system.”
The government has come under increasing pressure to deal with the social care crisis after years of inaction, and in a speech in late June, Boris Johnson said it was ‘finalising’ plans to solve the issue.
However, voters remain sceptical. Just Group’s annual care report, published at the time, found only 34 per cent of Conservative voters though the prime minister would be able to put a social care policy into practice in this Parliament.
The government was meant to publish a green paper in summer 2018 but has so far failed to do so.
However, it did outline a three-point plan in the December Queen's Speech, which included an additional £1bn for councils in every year of the parliament, with the government pledging to consult on a 2 per cent precept that would enable councils to access a further £500m for adult social care for 2020-2021.
Meanwhile the industry has come up with a number of suggestions including a Care Isa and Care pension but so far nothing seems to have been picked up by government.
Another suggestion from a think tank was to use the Covid-19 crisis to highlight issues in the sector and to push for the government to remove the “historic funding barrier” between the NHS and social care.