Is a Social Care Solution in Sight?March 30 2021
On 19 July 2019 the newly elected Prime Minister, Boris Johnson stood outside 10 Downing Street and promised, ,’We will fix the crisis in social care once and for all – with a clear plan we have prepared’. In January this year he said ‘ we will be bringing forward plans later this year’ however he has not said what the plans will look like apart from saying people won’t have to sell their homes to pay for care’. The delay in producing the plan has been blamed on the pandemic but everyone who has been following the debate on the future of social care will be aware that this isn’t the first time a solution to the crisis has been promised. Going right back back to Tony Blair, both Conservative and Labour governments have promised no less than nine times to find a solution to the problem but so far neither party has produced a solution. AgeUK have been at the forefront of the campaigning to bring about the change necessary to fix the social care crisis and earlier this year they published six points which they believe should be included in any new national system. They want to see a care system that:
- Joins up health and care services
- Increases support for unpaid carers
- Has an independent, nationally agreed eligibility and assessment process that enable those in need to access it
- Is funded through taxation
- Provides support for work age, sick and disabled adults as well as older people
- Invests in care workers to ensure high quality care.
They are also urging supporters to contact their MPs and urge them to lobby the government to provide a care system that provides immediate funding and long term reform. Their website provides a quick and easy form that can be accessed for this purpose by clicking onto a section headed ‘Tell your MP to fix care for good’. Theresa May, you may remember, was heavily criticised by her own MPs and the Labour Party for including in her 2017 general election manifesto what became known as the ‘dementia tax’ which proposed to force people to pay more of the cost for social care. Although she quickly backtracked on the idea and it never appeared in the Queen’s Speech it nevertheless is widely believed to have done her considerable political damage. The fact is that the elderly and pensioners have considerable political influence through the ballot box because they vote in greater numbers than any other age group. The Retired Members Committee urges all our members to support AgeUKs six point plan and contact your MP via their website.
We now understand that there is a strong possibility that the government hope to bring forward plans to reform social care by this May and their proposals will be included in this year’s Queen’s Speech. If that is true it will be good news not just for the elderly by society in general. However despite the governments promise to try and find a parliamentary consensus for any change the Labour Party claim they haven’t been consulted on the issue since Boris Johnson’s original announcement. So the media reports go with a serious health warning. As stated before previous governments have promised urgent action to resolve the social care crisis but have failed to deliver. Now is the time for the TUC, trade unions and individuals to put pressure on the government and tell them by lobbying the political parties and individual MPs that enough is enough and we now want a long term well funded solution.