Government announcements on reform of social care and support
An update on the current situation and recent announcements about changes to care and support for Deaf and Disabled people.
Funding for social care and support has been in crisis for some time. It has been estimated that £4.6bn has been cut from social care budgets between 2010 and 2015. In 2016 it was estimated that 400,000 fewer people now receive social care services than in 2009/10. Services are closing because of the lack of funding and people cannot leave hospital because of the lack of social care. The president of the ADASS said unless the previous Chancellor provided more funding for social care and support:
“… ultimately the safety and wellbeing of growing numbers of people, often with more complex needs, who rely on social care being put at grave risk.”
The government attempted to solve these funding concerns in their 2017 election manifesto but their proposals, particularly the so called ‘dementia tax’, were very unpopular. The government dropped the dementia tax but said it would go ahead with its manifesto promise to publish a ‘Green paper’ on social care with a full public consultation. Since then Disabled people have been waiting for the publication of the Green paper.
Disabled People’s Against Cuts held a lobby of government in July 2017 calling on the government to ensure that the Green paper addressed issues such as Disabled people’s rights to independent living.
Below we provide the government announcements about the social care green paper. The most recent announcements are first:
Care and support for working age Deaf and Disabled people
‘A parallel programme of work’
The information below is from the written statement by Damian Green, Cabinet Office 16 November 2017 :
The Government will have ‘a parallel programme of work’, led jointly by the Department of Health and the Department for Communities and Local Government, which will focus working age Disabled people. This work will also be overseen by the Inter-Ministerial Group to ensure alignment with the Green Paper.
(This programme of work will be ‘parallel’ i.e. to be worked on at the same time as the Green paper for older people, see below):
Care and support for older Deaf and Disabled people
Information from the written statement by Damian Green, Cabinet Office 16 November 2017 and a verbal statement in the House of Commons by the Under-Secretary for Health, Jackie Doyle-Price on 7 December:
- Government plans to publish the Green paper on the reform of care and support for older people by the 2018 summer recess, (i.e. by 20 July 2018)
- An ‘Inter-Ministerial Group’ has been formed (e.g. Ministers from Health and the Cabinet Office) to oversee development of the Green Paper
- The consultation will include proposals to place a limit on the care costs that individuals face, but the previous Government’s plans to implement a cap on care costs in 2020 will not be taken forward.
Comment: Following the recommendations in the Dilnot report adult social care costs were to be capped/limited to £72,000 per person, initially this was to start from April 2016, but was then pushed forward to 2020.
- The government says the Green paper will not just look at social care services, and ‘not focus narrowly on questions of means-testing’.
- Regarding whether the Green paper will consider the interrelationship of health and social care, government responded saying: “…The whole purpose of having a Green Paper and a debate is to make sure that we consider this issue not in a silo, but holistically, with a person-centred approach.”  For instance housing will also be looked at.
- The government’s ‘vision’ according to the written statement includes ‘the wider networks of support and services’, the role of housing and ‘the interaction with other public services’ and should ‘embrace new technology, innovation and workforce models’.
Comment: ‘Wider networks’ could mean the voluntary sector i.e. support the government doesn’t have to fund. The use of ‘new technology’ suggests they are looking for ways to cut down on expensive face to face contact. So government may be using the opportunity to look for ways to cut costs.
There is little or no mention of the reform of funding for social care and support in the written statement, other than the quick mention of means testing although funding was mentioned in the Queen’s speech (see below).
Inclusion London will be putting forward our position which is that social care is funded through general taxation and will call on the government to address the question of adequate funding for social care.
- The written statement says, ‘To deliver a lasting solution, it is right that we take the time needed to debate these complex issues and listen to a range of perspectives to build consensus.’
Comment: Usually the government avoids lengthy consultations. It has been suggested by commentators that on the question of social care and support and particularly its funding, the government would prefer to keep delaying.
- The government says it will work with experts, voluntary sector, stakeholders and people using care and support services to develop the Green paper.
Comment: There should be public call for involvement of DDPOs and the voluntary sector by the Cabinet Office; otherwise they can pick and choose who they hear from. There is a panel of experts, none of which include Deaf or Disabled people or representatives from DDPOs.
- Many of the discussions on the Green Paper reforms will impact on care and support for adults of all ages.
- The government has said ‘We are committed to ensuring that people with disabilities and complex conditions can live healthy, independent lives, and participate fully in society’.
It could be useful to refer to this statement when campaigning for the right to independent living.
Queens Speech June 2017
The reform of social care was in the Queen’s speech:
“My ministers will work to improve social care and will bring forward proposals for consultation.”
The background notes to the Queen’s speech indicated the Green paper will focus on older people and also mentions putting funding on a ‘more secure financial footing..’
Previous to the Queens speech the Conservative manifesto said:
‘….our forthcoming green paper will also address system-wide issues to improve the quality of care and reduce variation in practice.’
More information is available at: