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Sector left waiting for social care plans

PM Boris Johnson

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has admitted it could take until the end of the year to come up with a plan to solve social care and up to another five years before anything is implemented.

Speaking on BBC Breakfast this morning (14 January), the PM said solving social care had been ‘shirked by governments for about 30 years’ but that his government would deal with it.

When asked about a date, he replied: ‘We’ll certainly do it in this parliament…We will be bringing forward a plan this year and we will get it done within this parliament. It’s a big, big thing. It’s potentially a massive change in the way we fund social care. We have to get it right and we have to think carefully about how we do it.’

In November, Age UK research found the number of older people with some unmet care need stands at 1.5 million.

In March 2017, the former chancellor Philip Hammond promised a social care green paper later that year, but this was continually delayed and still has not been published.

After becoming PM in July last year, Johnson vowed to ‘fix the crisis of social care once and for all’ but his admission that it could take the whole of this parliament before anything is implemented was criticised by campaigners.

The Independent Care Group chair Mike Padgham said: ‘This is a huge disappointment after all the promises to tackle social care that were made when Mr Johnson took over as Prime Minister and during the general election campaign.

‘To hear that social care could be fobbed off for up to another five years is a kick in the teeth for the 1.5m people who can’t get the care they need today.

‘The social care sector deserves better and tackling this crisis should be the government’s number one domestic priority.

‘We don’t need any more plans, documents or proposals, we need action,’ he said.

Vic Rayner, National Care Forum executive director, added: ‘There is a consensus that our current social care system is in urgent need of reform. It is imperative that the government moves forward on this agenda. The time to act is now. Social care matters to us all.

‘We are calling on the Conservatives to make a step change in their approach by becoming the government of social care: a government that recognises the importance of social care in allowing people to live full, healthy and independent lives; the need for an immediate 3-5 year funding settlement as part of a long-term funding solution and a long-term vision for social care shaped by those who use it now, and in the future.’

Cllr Ian Hudspeth, chairman of the Local Government Association (LGA)’s community wellbeing board, said: ‘People of all ages should be able to live the lives they want to lead and we are pleased to hear the Prime Minister pledge to bring forward a plan for a solution to adult social care this year.

‘The forthcoming Budget is also an important opportunity to address this crucial issue of funding while looking ahead to finding a longer-term, cross-party solution to adult social care, which we at the LGA are happy to play our part in.’