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‘Queen’s Speech must outline ambitious social care reform’



Council and social care leaders are mounting pressure on the Government to include long-awaited plans to reform social care in the Queen’s Speech tomorrow.

The Local Government Association (LGA) today sent a cross-party letter to Chancellor Rishi Sunak that said failure to act now would be ‘a bitter blow’. It pointed to the Queen’s Speech and the spending review later this year as ‘key opportunities’ to outline reform for the sector.

The letter comes amid concerns that the long-promised changes to the sector will not be set out in the Queen’s Speech. Although Boris Johnson said he had a ‘clear’ plan to ‘fix social care’ when he became Prime Minister in 2019, he has not yet brought forward any firm proposals.

The LGA called on the Government to commit to increased, long-term investment and avoid ‘sticking plaster solutions’ such as one-off grants. People must also be protected from having to sell their home to pay for care, they added.

They wrote: ‘We have previously stated, and still believe, that the case should be made for increases in national taxation and/or a social care premium based on the core principle of universal risk-pooling.’

Likewise, the National Care Forum (NCF) used the build-up to the Queen’s Speech to publish 8 recommendations for what should be included in ‘an ambitious plan for social care’ – such as sustainable funding, investment in workforce and tackling the extortionate price of care for individuals.

NCF chief executive Vic Rayner said: ‘The government must take this opportunity to be ambitious for social care, a once in a generation chance to reform and invest in social care so it can continue to make a transformational difference to the lives of the millions who use it.’

In his blog this week for Nursing in Practice, care home owner George Coxon explained that public spending on social care is ‘unsustainable’. He added: ‘In care home land, we so often see the consequences of the struggle, stress and distress endured by the whole support network.’

Last month, umbrella bodies – including Care England, Age UK and NHS Confederation – said that failed attempts to fix the social care by successive governments has left the sector ‘on its knees’ and ‘in desperate need of reform’.

They also said they supported recent calls from the Health and Social Care Committee for an extra £7 billion per annum at least for the sector and a workforce strategy to avoid the risk of market collapse.

In March, a National Audit Office report found that the Department of Health and Social Care had not produced a workforce strategy for social care in England since 2009. The Government has delayed its social care green paper seven times since the first deadline of summer 2017.