Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock has written to MPs to initiate cross-party talks on social care in England.
The move comes eight months after Boris Johnson promised on the steps of Downing Street to “fix the social care crisis once and for all”.
In a letter shared on Twitter, Hancock called on his colleagues to write to him with their “proposed solutions and concerns” about reforming the way people pay for their care.
He explained that he and the Minister of Care, Helen Whately, intend to move to a second phase of structured talks on reform options in May.
This means that the Conservative Party will have passed the 100-day deadline it set for holding cross-party talks after the General Election in December.
Mr Hancock said the Government was committed to seeking views from across the political spectrum after years of successive governments “trying and failing” to find a long-term solution to funding social care.
He wrote: “We need to address the injustices within the system and find a balance between people continuing to contribute to their care without having to face catastrophic costs. We do not need another commission – we need action now, finally to seek a solution that can support future generations.
“As we set out in our manifesto, we will seek to build cross-party consensus so that the reforms we progress will last long into the future, nobody is forced to sell their home to pay for care, and everybody accessing care has safety and security. Of course, any solution needs to consider the financial impact on taxpayers as a whole, the competing demands on taxpayers’ money from other public services, and how to fund reform on sustainable basis.
“We know that this will not be easy. The number of reports that have been published in recent years with different suggested approaches shows how difficult it is to reach an agreement on the best way to reform the social care system. Nevertheless, we know that there are colleagues from all sides of both Houses who are keen to work together to address the issues in the current system and find a solution once and for all.”
The Labour Party said it has offered to engage in meaningful cross party talks, but criticised the government for failing to set out concrete proposals for reform.
Nadra Ahmed OBE, executive chairman of the National Care Association, told CHP: “At last we are seeing some leadership by government toward finding solutions to stabilise social care. The important thing now is to ensure that they have the right mix around the table and clear deliverable options which will stabilise the offer to some of the most vulnerable members of our society. All of this must be set against timescales which will start to move us towards a sustainable sector fit for the future, not another sticking plaster.”
Martin Green OBE, CEO of Care England, added: “Care England land is pleased to see that the government is seeking a consensus, so that we can have a long-term settlement for social care. We hope that members of parliament from all parties, and in both houses, will come together and secure the future of the social care system.”