United Kingdom

Boris Johnson's failure to fix the social care system is a 'stain on our nation', expert says 

Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak must find a way to reform the social care system as their failure to improve it is a 'stain on our nation', an expert said last night.

The Chancellor did not mention social care in his Budget and yesterday he admitted that it would take 'some time' for reforms to be completed. 

This is despite the Prime Minister announcing in July 2019 – when he entered No 10 – that he had a plan to fix the crisis 'once and for all'.

Yesterday Sir Andrew Dilnot, who led a review in 2011 on social care funding, demanded action. 

Sir Andrew Dilnot, who led a review in 2011 on social care funding, last night called on Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak to find a way to reform the social care system. (Stock image)

He told BBC Radio 4's World at One: 'I think what we have to hope for now is that in the spending review discussions over the summer we get this done. It's a stain on our nation that we haven't.' 

Sir Andrew predicted that social care would need between £7-10billion extra per year.

Meanwhile, Priti Patel has waived visa restrictions for senior care workers and nursing assistants, meaning care homes can recruit foreign workers. 

Yesterday Mr Sunak said work on reforming funding of social care had been set back by the pandemic, despite Mr Johnson's promise of having already drawn up a plan on the day he became PM.

He told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: 'We are committed to finding, ideally, a cross-party solution to sustainable social care funding - it is important given the long-term duration of social care policy that, as much as possible, we would like to build consensus around a solution.

'Obviously right now our focus is the pandemic. I know the Health Secretary has started that work on trying to see what the solutions might be and at the appropriate time, if we can find consensus on a solution, we will bring that forward and have that conversation, but that is something that of course we remain committed to.'

Successive governments have failed to address the situation which can both leave families facing ruinously expensive care costs while the system as a whole struggles for funding.

In July 2019 the Prime Minister announced that he had a plan to fix the crisis 'once and for all'

In his first speech as Prime Minister in July 2019 Mr Johnson said he was 'announcing now - on the steps of Downing Street - that we will fix the crisis in social care once and for all with a clear plan we have prepared'.

Pressed on why there was still no information about such a plan when the Prime Minister said it had already been prepared, Mr Sunak said: 'I think given, as you said, it has been a problem that has not found a solution over many governments and parliaments, I think it is going to take some time and thought to get it right because we want to make sure it is a lasting settlement.

'And right now, particularly on the health side, the focus is on tackling the pandemic, and that's right that that is our focus.'

The Prime Minister's press secretary, Allegra Stratton, told reporters: 'I do truly believe that the focus for everyone in Government has been on saving lives in care homes and other places, but a lot of care homes over the last year, and there just hasn't been the chance to look in detail at what comes next.'

Rishi Sunak yesterday admitted that it would take 'some time' for reforms to be completed

She said Health Secretary Matt Hancock had written to all MPs on the issue in March 2020 and would pick that work up again as the coronavirus crisis eased.

But Labour's shadow minister for social care, Liz Kendall, said the Government had not 'discussed or even raised' with the Opposition its plans to build a cross-party consensus.

She said: 'There was nothing in the Budget on social care, despite everything that has happened during this pandemic and the Prime Minister's promise on the steps of Downing St to fix the crisis in social care more than 18 months ago.

'Today the Chancellor claimed this gaping hole is because the Government is trying to build cross-party consensus about the way forward. 

'Yet this has not been discussed or even raised with Labour's front bench team, despite our repeatedly asking the care minister about this issue.

'Our society and economy need a care system that is fit for the future. Ministers must bring forward plans for reform as a matter of the utmost urgency and deliver on their promises to the British people.'

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