It is easy to be cynical about our political leaders, given the antics of John Prescott, the pomposity of Patricia Hewitt and the obstinacy of Charles Clarke before he was ejected from the cabinet in last week’s reshuffle. But Liam Byrne, as a junior health minister, had earned the respect of people in social care and they have good reason to lament his departure, albeit to a more senior ministerial role in the Home Office.
His successor as care services minister, Ivan Lewis, has a strong background in public and independent sector social care, but he will have found his in-tray piled high with work in progress, including the white paper and a make-or-break review of funding for adult social care.
Lewis is not the only one who risks dropping the baton in a difficult handover. Maria Eagle leaves her post as junior children’s minister where she had been working on a strategy for looked-after children, while Jacqui Smith gives up her role as schools minister steering the Education and Inspection Bill through the crucial committee stage. Let’s hope their loss is not felt too keenly. Social care needs good advocates, never more so than now.
See Directors warn against policy delays as Lewis takes over social care reins