Details delay social care green paper

15 Apr 19

Delays to the social care green paper are a result of the need for “greater consideration” of proposals, PF has heard.

Sector leaders have warned the pressure on social care in England “does not abate” after the government missed a fifth consecutive deadline for the green paper’s publication.  

While Brexit has played a part in delaying the document, issues with the early proposals put to sector leaders have also contributed to the slow progress.

Glen Garrod, president of the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services, told PF: “The government has sought some advice on the production of the green paper, and some of the advice, I know, has been that it required greater consideration.”

Garrod, who has been involved with talks about the paper with health secretary Matt Hancock and his predecessor Jeremy Hunt, said that some of the proposals in an early version of the green paper are “less well developed than others”.

“The longer the delay, the more pressing its publication becomes. The pressure on adult social care does not abate,” Garrod said. 

The long-awaited document will consult on policy ideas such as a more generous means-test, a cap on lifetime social care charges, an insurance contribution model, a care ISA and tax-free withdrawals form pension pots.

The latest deadline to be missed was at the end of March, after Hancock had told parliament that he intended to publish it before April. This was the fifth missed deadline, others include: summer 2017, end of 2017, summer 2018, autumn 2018.

Sue Bott, director of policy and development at Disability Rights UK, told PF that despite attending roundtables on the green paper with ministers, some proposals lacked detail.

“We were not told what all the proposals were, but we were told that some changes could be implemented straight away and would not need legislation – others would,” she said.

“It was a weird meeting – we were being urged to be as supportive as we could, which was strange because we didn’t know much about the detail,” she told PF.

Bott added: “The people who are suffering here are people who can’t get out of their own homes and get on the streets and shout for support.”

Louise Haigh, Labour MP and co-chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on social care, also told PF that with ongoing delays “the human cost of the social care crisis worsens”.

She added: “The government is putting out green and white papers on other subject so it’s not just a matter of Brexit. There’s clearly something fundamentally wrong with the proposals that they are wanting to put out there.

“I can only assume that it is because the proposals don’t go far enough.”

Another source, who wished to remain anonymous, said: “It would be surprising if the hold up was not down to funding arrangements.”

Garrod criticised the government’s previous suggestion that the paper would be announced alongside the NHS Long-Term Plan – which was eventually launched in January 2019.

“The government created a false link between the NHS plan and the green paper, because the green paper does not have money behind it whereas the NHS Long-Term Plan did,” he told PF.

The Long-Term Plan was produced by NHS England and sets out how it will spend the £20.5bn announced by the government last summer.

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “We will set out our plans to reform the social care system at the earliest opportunity to ensure it is sustainable for the future.”

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