Despite the season, it was clear that social care was not expecting a festive miracle from the Queen’s Speech. So, did the speech pass the test and at the very least get social care out of the blocks?
Social care got a brief mention:
“My Ministers will seek cross-party consensus on proposals for long term reform of social care. They will ensure that the social care system provides everyone with the dignity and security they deserve and that no one who needs care has to sell their home to pay for it.”
The cross-party approach is a reiteration of the government’s manifesto promise – which during the election campaign was prefaced with a 100-day countdown (now #93daysandcounting). However, the commitment to ‘ensure that the social care system provides’ for everyone with the notion of dignity for all is a potential shift from the previous iterations of reform. Previously there had been a focus on older people only – this commitment potentially opens the door to a recognition of the need of vulnerable working age people as well as older people. Finally, the promise that ‘no one who needs care has to sell their home to pay for it’ is a reiteration of previous promises.
There was a much larger focus on the NHS than social care with pledges for:
- An NHS multi-year funding settlement to be enshrined in law
- Steps to grow the NHS workforce
- Introduction of a new visa to ‘ensure qualified doctors, nurses and health professionals have fast-track entry to the United Kingdom.’ This sits alongside a promise to introduce a ‘modern, fair, points-based immigration system’ for skilled workers.
There were also references to measures to ‘encourage flexible working, to introduce the entitlement to leave for unpaid carers and to help people save for later life’ along with a commitment to increasing the National Living Wage.
So, on an initial view, while we hoped to see more detail on long-term social care reform and a recognition of how social care and the NHS are part of the same system, at least this is a start. But it is only a start with many hazards and distractions ahead.
Prior to the speech, I was very heartened to hear colleagues from across health urge the government to prioritise fixing social care. Saffron Cordery, Deputy CEO of NHS Providers, argued effectively this morning that unless the government resourced social care, then the challenges faced by the NHS would exacerbate rather than improve. We also heard from the Alzheimer’s Society on the emotional and financial hardships placed on those living with dementia and their families. These all reinforce the central message that must be glaringly apparent to all who now hold power: social care matters to us all, and we are a nation that can wait no longer for reform
We are about to move into a new decade. It feels like we have spent the last decade rehearsing the same old arguments for social care. We know what the problems are – and we know what needs to change. NCF members call on this government to have the clarity of vision that the new decade demands – and to Be the Government of Social Care. #fixsocialcare #93daysandcounting