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‘The Queen’s Speech’ another let down for social care reform

Given the governments record on promises to fix social care, none of us should have been the least surprised with the outcome of ‘The Queens Speech’.

It beggar’s belief that despite the pressures from across all political parties, leaders in the social care industry, academics and charities, we are left with a statement that plans for social care would be brought forward by the end of 2021.

Boris Johnson’s promise

Remarkably, it’s almost two years since Boris Johnson claimed on his first day as prime minister that he already had a plan to “fix the crisis in social care once and for all”.

In July 2019, he said “My job is to protect you or your parents or grandparents from the fear of having to sell your home to pay for the costs of care. And so, I am announcing now-that we will fix the crisis in social care once and for all with a clear plan that we have”.

That promise has never been kept and in practical terms we are no further forward than at any time in more than a decade of the Governments tenure.

I find it difficult to understand why a government is prepared to risk the political wrath they knew would occur as a result of their inertia on reform of social care.

I am of the opinion that the cry for social care reform would now have been answered if we were near a general election. I cannot see an electorate dependent on social care voting for a government that has so blatantly broken its promises.

What is the reason for the delay?

We all understand the costs to the country following the pandemic, but as Jeremy Hunt MP Chairman of the Commons Health and Social Care Committee says most of the costs of social care reform will not kick in for several years allowing for plenty of time for the economy to recover.

The Government can no longer put the delay down to the need for political consensus as all major parties support the Dilnot principles on the statute book. All that is needed is the political will.

In the UK we continue to drag our heels while Germany and Japan have implemented sound reform of social care.

Impact of the delay in social care reform

Age UK said his delay in implementing a plan is having far-reaching effects. Charity Director Caroline Abrahams said: ‘Its patently unfair that if you need a lot of care for a long time, the gigantic cost could take away all you have worked for throughout your life. It shocking that 10000 people have been left penniless by their care bills since this Prime Minister promised to fix social care.

We need leadership and the political will

Boris Johnson has shown through Brexit that he is not afraid of big political decisions. He needs to adopt the same mantra with social care reform. In 1948 the then Conservative health minister Sir Henry Willink described fixing social care as the ‘1948 moment’. The chance to make major reform that will last for generations and stand the test of time. It is time that Boris Johnson rose to the challenge.

Summary

All those with an interest in the reform of social care will be frustrated and disappointed at the outcome of the ‘The Queens Speech’. It is more than that to some. Many have been left penniless meeting the cost of social care as a result of the Governments delay, and we are left with a social care industry plodding along in limbo.

The time has come for Boris Johnson to honour his promise to the British people and fix the social care system.

Albert Cook BA, MA & Fellow Charted Quality Institute Managing Director Bettal Quality Consultancy

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