Monday, 5 November 2018

Social Care - Avoiding The Difficult Decisions

Social care funding decisions kicked into the long grass - again

"Age UK is concerned about the state of Social Care in the country and are worried that the long promised Green Paper on Social Care is going to be ‘kicked into the long-grass’ by the Government.
They are calling on the Government to bring forward their plans for a social care Green Paper which includes meaningful consultation with older people.
They highlight a number of issues to be addressed:
  • Underfunding – in the last 5 years there has been a £160 million cut in total public spending on older people’s social care despite a rapidly increasing demand because of our ageing population
  • Postcode lottery – despite the 2014 Care Act introducing a national system of eligibility, local variation is still leaving many older people without any support
  • Unmet need -1.2 million people aged 65 plus don’t receive the care support they need with essential living activities
  • Declining access – cuts in local authority care services have placed increasing pressure on unpaid carers
Age UK want  to make sure that Theresa May keeps her promise, made in March to ‘put the state-funded system on a more secure and sustainable footing.’
They are asking the Government to follow through on its commitment to a Green Paper consultation without delay."
Unfortunately Age UK's plea above was made in December 2017 and still the wait for the government to publish the Green Paper goes on. 
The Green Paper was promised by Chancellor Philip Hammond in his March 2017 budget "later in the year (2017)" which would "set out options for resolving the financially and politically pressing question of how to fund social care in the long term, giving the population is set to continue ageing.".
After that failed to appear the then Health and Social Care Secretary Jeremy Hunt repeated promised then delayed the Green Paper.
Most recently Hunt's successor Matt Hancock "committed to a comprehensive green paper on social care in the Autumn". Nothing yet - when does Autumn turn to Winter?
But still the wait goes on.
All the council's budget could be spent on social care
And every day that passes, the pressures on council budgets grow. As far back as 2012 the dangers were being highlighted (including the "Graph of Doom" opposite) and nothing much has changed: unless things do change, very soon all of the council's budget will be consumed by supporting social care costs - to the exclusion of all other services.
So, when will this government get real with the public, open up an honest debate by publishing the Green Paper, instead of kicking these most "pressing questions"?
Given the shambles over handling of "Brexit" I'm not holding my breath.

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