NEWSFLASH: Leaders blast government’s ‘empty words’ on social care reform

House of Commons

Leaders have expressed their disappointment at the lack of detail on social care reform plans in today’s Queen’s Speech.

Speaking during the State Opening of Parliament today, the Queen announced that proposals on social care would be brought forward without adding further detail.

Professor Martin Green OBE, CEO of Care England, said the speech was a “missed opportunity”, adding: “A sector that supports and employs vast swathes of the population cannot be ignored. We stand ready and willing to help the government deliver its manifesto commitment, but the Health and Care Bill which has a focus on the NHS, is not the vehicle to deliver this huge shift as it will not produce the system change that is necessary to ensure the future sustainability of the sector.”

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Vic Rayner, CEO of the National Care Forum, said: “It comes to something when what isn’t in the Queen’s Speech is as big a news as what is included. This has to be a wakeup call to the government that it must engage fully and swiftly with the need to reform social care. It is not enough to say the words and follow up with no action. This affects millions of lives, and people up and down the country deserve this government to grasp this issue with ambition at their heart.”

Social Care Institute for Excellence Chief Executive Kathryn Smith said it was “hugely disappointing” that a social care bill had not been put forward as a matter of urgency, adding the sector required a sustained increase in funding as well as long-term reform.

Mike Padgham, chair of the Independent Care Group, said the government had merely played “lip service” to care, adding older and vulnerable people had been betrayed yet again.

“We have had too many promises and pledges, we now need to see action,” he added.

“We need the Government to set out what it plans to do and set strict deadlines as to when it is going to do it, so that it is accountable to the hundreds of thousands of people who are being failed by this government today and every day.”

UNISON general secretary Christina McAnea said the government could not continue putting off reform with “empty words”, adding it was “time for action to fix the broken care sector”.

Cllr David Fothergill, health and social care spokesperson for the County Councils Network, said: “A renewed commitment to social care reform is welcome, but today’s words are similar to what was announced in the 2019 Queen’s Speech. We understand that the pandemic has taken precedence, but as the country comes out the other side councils need more than just an ambition to bring proposals forward. We urge the government publish its plan for social care as soon as possible.”

Nadra Ahmed OBE, Executive Chairman of NCA, said: “I feel deeply disappointed that despite our fragility pre-pandemic our sector has fought a frontline battle over the past year to support those who were most at risk and this administration has failed to create a roadmap to reform and support. No timescales can only mean that little thought has gone into this far.”

Caroline Abrahams, charity director at Age UK and co-chair of the Care and Support Alliance (CSA) struck a more positive tone, however, saying the government had “finally nailed its colours to the mast by formally committing to social care reform this year”.

“The question now is how good the government’s proposals will be, not whether there will be any at all, so this is an important step forward for the millions of older and disabled people and carers who deserve so much better than what’s often on offer to them today,” Caroline said.

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