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Government fails to expand on social care reforms despite pledging to “bring forward” plans in Queen’s Speech

The Government has failed to provide any new details on proposed social care reforms despite pledging to “bring forward” such plans in the Queen’s Speech earlier this month.

The lack of commitment has angered critics, who argue that inaction will lead to the collapse of the sector.

“Urgent” social care reforms were first recommended by the independent Dilnot Commission report in 2011, which suggested a “more generous” means-testing threshold, a cap on care costs, and measures to reduce the “postcode lottery” for care services.

But recent research undertaken throughout the pandemic has again highlighted the pressing need to invest in and reform the sector.

For example, the Social care: funding and workforce report, published by the Health and Social Care Committee in October 2020, found that the industry was under “significant pressure” and that the rising demand for social care was “calling into question the long-term sustainability of the workforce.”

Likewise, the latest figures suggest that the sector is facing a ‘funding gap’ of some £6.1 billion, forcing providers to cut costs and services and ultimately reducing overall quality of care.

Commenting on the reforms, Joanne Roney, president of the Society of Local Authority Chief Executives and Senior Managers, said: “The pandemic has shone a stark light on the urgent need for social care reform, so it is not only disappointing but disconcerting that this has once again been delayed”.

She added that reform “must be addressed – along with a genuinely sustainable financial settlement for local government – as part of the forthcoming spending review”.

David Fothergill, health and social care spokesperson for the County Councils Network, also called on the Government to publish social care plans “as soon as possible”.

“Much of the recent speculation has focused on introducing a new cap on care, but reform must be more wide-ranging,” he said.

“As well as limiting catastrophic care costs for individuals, we must ensure up-front investment is sufficient to help increase access to services for those who needs are currently not being met, alongside sustained investment in preventative community care services.”

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