The government has reiterated its promise to reform social care by the end of the year after being told the “time for excuses” was over.
Labour MP Liz Kendall asked an urgent question in the House of Commons yesterday (June 23) to press the government on when it plans to make a statement on its social care reform plans.
But Helen Whately, minister of state for social care, failed to give a specific timeline or an idea of what the plans may contain, instead reiterating that proposals will be brought forward “later this year”.
Whately said: “While the pandemic has posed unprecedented challenges to social care, it has also strengthened the argument for reform.
“We have a once in a generation opportunity to build a care system for the future and I am hugely ambitious.”
She added that steps were already being taken to reform this sector with the Health and Care bill helping to “join up health and social care by putting integrated care systems on a statutory footing”.
But Kendall hit back, pointing out that it had been 100 weeks since the prime minister promised to “fix the crisis in social care” with a plan he had already prepared, to give people “the dignity and security they deserve”.
Kendall said: “Since then, almost 42,000 care home residents have died from Covid-19, 2m people have applied for support but had their request refused, tens of thousands have had to sell their home to pay for care, families have hit breaking point, and staff have been appallingly let down."
She accused ministers of pulling out of a meeting on social care reform this week, saying this was not “delivering dignity” but was “abdicating responsibility”.
Kendall went on to say that a “vague commitment” to sometime later this year, would not convince anyone “after all the delays and broken promises”.
She also questioned whether the plan would include a cap on care costs as this had been repeatedly promised, legislated for seven years ago, but has still not been delivered.
She said: “The time for excuses is over. When will the government deliver?"
In response, Whately said the government has been clear that it will reform this sector and on Kendall’s claims about a missed meeting she said the health secretary and the prime minister talked about social care reform “all the time”.
"In fact, I spoke to the prime minister just last week about social care reform but these are complex matters”, she added.
Social care reform has been on the list of things to fix for a while, with successive governments promising to address this issue and then subsequently not following through with their promises.
The prime minister has promised repeatedly to 'fix' the social care system and the Conservative party manifesto promised to address the issue. In a speech in late June last year he said the government was ‘finalising’ plans to solve the issue.