Care leaders have warned the government that more of the same on social care will not be good enough following yesterday’s Queen Speech.
In the speech, which marked the official opening of the new Parliament following last week’s decisive Conservatives victory in the General Election, the government pledged to seek a cross-party consensus on long term social care reform.
Her Majesty said: “My ministers will seek cross-party consensus on proposals for long term reform of social care. They will ensure that the social care system provides everyone with the dignity and security they deserve and that no one who needs care has to sell their home to pay for it. My ministers will continue work to reform the Mental Health Act.”
Care leaders voiced their disappointment that the government had failed to match its £34bn spending pledge on the NHS.
Professor Martin Green OBE, CEO of Care England, said he was “suspicious” that talk of political consensus could mean pushing social care into the long grass.
“No government with an 80 seat majority needs to seek political consensus, what they need to do is deliver a clear policy that will put social care on a firm footing for this generation and the next,” Martin added.
Nadra Ahmed OBE, executive chairman of the National Care Association, said talk alone would not “cut the mustard”.
“We need to ensure if we are going to stabilise social care provision and through that the NHS, a strategic plan is agreed and implemented,” Nadra said.
Mike Padgham, chair of the Independent Care Group (ICG), called for “time limited” cross-party talks, adding the Prime Minister should pledge to step down if reform was not secured in the current Parliament.
Michael Voges, Executive Director of ARCO, said “more of the same” would not be good enough on social care. The ARCO chief said it was important that the government committed to supporting new and innovative forms of care delivery, such as housing with care for older people in retirement communities.
Cllr David Williams, chairman of the County Councils Network, and leader of Hertfordshire County Council, added that the government must recognise that the health service and adult social care were “two sides of the same coin”. He urged the government to begin cross-party talks as soon as possible, adding counties must be an “integral part” of discussions.
Steven Cameron, Pensions Director at Aegon, noted the Queen’s Speech was a “déjà vu” moment for social care. The pensions director said a care costs cap was essential if people were to be incentivised to plan ahead for their care and also highlighted the Lib Dems election call for a ‘ring-fenced’ health and care tax.