Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has said the lack of a social care plan in yesterday’s Queen’s Speech was “unforgivable”.
Sir Keir’s comments came as social care leaders signalled their disappointment at the government’s failure to outline its plans for reform.
The Labour leader said it had been 657 days since the Prime Minister pledge to fix social care.
“Yet 657 days on from that promise what did we hear in this address? No legislation, no new funding, no details, no time scale,” he added.
“Failure to act for a decade… was bad enough but failure to act after a pandemic is nothing short of an insult to a whole nation.”
The opposition leader’s attack came as social care leaders continued to express their frustration with lack of progress on reform.
Stephen Chandler, ADASS President, said: “Adult social care is a positive force in our lives and our communities and it can play a huge role in post-pandemic social and economic recovery and the levelling-up of our nation.
“It is deeply frustrating that we did not hear any detail of how ministers intend to make social care fit for purpose in the 21st century so that it can enable young disabled and older people and carers to realise their ambitions and maximise their independence.”
John Tonkiss, CEO McCarthy Stone, said he was “disappointed” that legislation to bring forward much-needed social care reform was absent from the Queen’s Speech.
“Older people were amongst those most affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly those in residential care,” John said. “It is therefore more vital than ever to outline a plan for wide-reaching reform to protect them against future pandemics.”
Dr Jennifer Dixon, Chief Executive of the Health Foundation, said it was a “huge disappointment” that the government still had no plan for social care and highlighted objections from the Treasury that reform was unaffordable, arguing it would cost just 2% of NHS expenditure.
“Given the weight of the case for change, the question is not whether social care reform is affordable but whether the government can afford to delay progress on an issue that could become its Achilles heel,” Dr Dixon said.
QCS’s Head of Care Quality, Philippa Shirtcliffe, said: “Yesterday, it felt like the government was more concerned with the optics rather than providing the nation with a detailed policy summary of how it planned to repair the broken care system. Mr Johnson may be riding high in the polls right now, but he and his cabinet need to start ‘walking the walk’ instead of merely ‘talking the talk’.
“This means not just promising to ensure that everyone ‘receives the dignity and security they deserve’ but actually delivering on it. The government should start by outlining real policies and shouldn’t shy away from having an honest conversation with the public regarding the cost of fixing the social care system. That should be the minimum expectation and is the very least that millions of people deserve.”