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Government Faces Backlash Over "Unfathomable" Lack Of Social Care Plan In Queen's Speech

Ministers have come under fire over the lack of plans to deal with social care (PA)

3 min read

Industry groups have criticised the government's failure to provide a detailed plan for addressing the social care crisis in today's Queen's speech, which only promised to "bring forward proposals" over the next year.

It has been almost two years since Boris Johnson said on his first day in Downing Street that he had a "clear plan" to alleviate pressure on the adult social care system.

But today the PM faced accusations that his "oven ready" plan was "truly burning" after the lack of concrete proposals in the set-piece legislative speech.

Former cabinet office minister and senior Conservative MP Damian Green told PoliticsHome any social care plans would now have to rely on additional taxes or private insurance.

"I am confident that we will get full proposals this year, but the government hasn't decided yet how to solve the funding conundrum," he said.

"There are many solutions available but however you cut it, we will have to pay more through taxes or private insurance, or both for those who can afford it.

"That's why successive governments have ducked it."

Industry leaders also hit out at the government's continued lack of concrete proposals for social care. Professor Martin Green OBE, chief executive of Care England, said the "missed opportunity" meant it was now "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," he said.

"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."

He added: "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 just 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."

Fiona Carragher, director of research and influencing at the Alzheimer's Society, also criticsed the lack of new detail. 

"Almost two years since the Prime Minister committed to implementing a plan to address the deep-rooted problems in social care, our most vulnerable people have been worst hit by coronavirus," she said. 

"34,000 people with dementia have died from the virus and many more are rapidly deteriorating. Vague promises are no longer enough."

She added that the pandemic had "exposed the cracks in our failing social care system" and called for the government to provide high quality, free at the point of use accessible social care for people with dementia. 

Conservative leaders as far back as David Cameron in 2010 have promised to produce concrete plans to solve the social care funding crisis, but each effort has either been scrapped or delayed.

In a briefing note accompanying the Queen's speech, Downing Street said ministers would continue to engage with social care staff on how best to support the sector, saying any change would be "informed by diverse perspectives".

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