“The oven-ready plan is burning”: Social care leaders react to Queen’s Speech
Meaningful social care reform has been “kicked into the long grass again”, say campaigners, after reform plans were absent from the Government’s agenda.
Social care leaders have expressed disappointment and fury after promises to fix social care were once again delayed, with the topic absent from the Queen’s Speech – a parliamentary procedure outlining the Government’s agenda.
The speech, delivered by Her Majesty yesterday (11 May), included a reiteration of the Government’s previous commitment that “proposals for social care reform will be brought forward”, however no indication of timings or potential scope of the proposals was given.
Opposition leader Sir Keir Starmer said the lack of a plan was “unforgivable” and “an insult to the whole nation”.
Boris Johnson made the pledge to “fix the crisis in social care once and for all” in his first speech as Prime Minister giving hope to leaders in the sector, however plans have repeatedly failed to materialise.
The lack of plans is set against a backdrop of rising demand, as a report last week from the King’s Fund found that between 2015/16 and 2019/20, 120,000 more people requested social care support.
Professor Martin Green OBE, Chief Executive of Care England, says the Queen’s Speech was a “missed opportunity”.
“Without the much needed, not to mention heralded, reform it is questionable as to how much longer the sector can be expected to limp on. A sector that supports and employs vast swathes of the population cannot be ignored.
“We stand ready and willing to help the Government deliver its manifesto commitment, but the Health and Care Bill which has a focus on the NHS, is not the vehicle to deliver this huge shift as it will not produce the system change that is necessary to ensure the future sustainability of the sector.”
“Sadly, we have been here before and it is simply unfathomable as to what will influence the Government to bring about reform; surely they can’t be waiting for provider failure and further chaos in the already overstretched NHS. The oven-ready plan is truly burning, or maybe the Government forgot to ever put it in the oven."
Sharing Martin’s frustration at the announcement, Social Care Institute for Excellence Chief Executive Kathryn Smith, said it was “hugely disappointing” that a social care bill was not put forward.
“Today – and the budget in March – have been just the latest in many missed opportunities over the last few years to sort out social care reform; and time is ticking.
“The sector is seeing so many innovative new initiatives, from the use of co-production to strengths-based approaches. But to fulfil its potential the sector needs a sustained increase in funding, to stabilise the care system, particularly with the impact of Covid-19, and to bring the long-term reform that’s so desperately needed.”
Last month, social care leaders urged the Prime Minister in a letter that the sector needed a ‘1948 moment’ similar to the conditions which led to the creation of the NHS.
The letter, signed by 26 influential organisations, warned that the sector was “on its knees” and “in desperate need of reform”.
Stephen Chandler, President of the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS) – who signed the letter calling for a 1948 moment – said it was “deeply frustrating” that they did not hear any detail of how ministers intend to make social care fit for purpose in the 21st century.
Gerry Nosowska, Chair of the British Association of Social Workers (BASW), echoed those sentiments, writing on Twitter: “Sad that no resolution in sight for #socialcare reform in England; we will keep on supporting social workers and joining our voice to calls for a better society where everyone gets to thrive; action and aspiration #socialwork.”
Read: Sector leaders tell the Prime Minister adult social care needs a ‘1948 moment’ https://www.socialworktoday.co.uk/News/Sector-leaders-tell-the-Prime-Minister-adult-social-care-needs-a-%E2%80%981948-moment%E2%80%99-
Read the speech in full: https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/queens-speech-2021
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