Prime minister Gordon Brown has raised the status of adult social care in his government reshuffle with the appointment of the first minister of state for the sector.
Phil Hope has been appointed to the role, succeeding Ivan Lewis, who moves to the Department for International Development.
Unlike Lewis, who was a parliamentary under-secretary of state – the lowest rung on the ministerial ladder – Hope will be a minister of state, raising the sector’s clout in Whitehall.
Home secretary Jacqui Smith was the last minister of state for social care, but the role then covered children’s and adults’ services. The post was split in 2003, when Margaret Hodge became the first children’s minister – at minister of state level – and Stephen Ladyman took control of adult social care as a parliamentary under-secretary of state, a status the post has maintained until now.
Hope was formerly at the Cabinet Office, where he held responsibility for the third sector and social exclusion.
In an interview with Community Care in June this year, Hope said of the government’s social exclusion plans: “I’m absolutely passionate about this agenda. It’s what gets Labour politicians up in the morning.”
As part of his social exclusion brief, he was responsible for key government targets on increasing the number of people with learning disabilities and mental health problems, care leavers and offenders in settled accommodation and employment, education or training.
Hope also oversaw a number of pilot schemes to tackle exclusion including the family nurse partnership scheme, under which young first-time parents in deprived areas receive intensive support with healthcare and parenting until their child’s second birthday.
Lewis became care services minister in May 2006 and has overseen a number of significant policy developments for the sector including:-
- The personalisation agenda. In December 2007, Lewis led the signing of the Putting People First concordat, under which social care leaders agreed a programme to personalise adult care services in England from 2008-11, through greater self-assessment, personal budgets and better access to information for users.
- The care and support green paper. Pledged in October 2007 and due in spring 2009, this promises to reform the funding of adult social care to deal with the twin challenges of rising expectations and demands for services from the increasing number of older and disabled people. The government is currently holding an “engagement process” with stakeholders and the public to inform the paper.
- A revised carers strategy, published in June 2008, promising £150m to expand short breaks from 2008-11 but no increase in benefits for carers.
- England’s first dementia strategy, due this autumn. A consultation paper, published in June, included proposals to invest more than £200m a year to set up early intervention and diagnosis services for people with dementia.
Neil Hunt, chief executive of the Alzheimer’s Society, said of Lewis: “Making dementia a health priority has been a significant change of heart by the government and Ivan was responsible for that change. We look forward to working with Phil Hope on the implementation of the national dementia strategy for England when it is launched later this year.”
In other appointments, Phil Woolas has succeeded Liam Byrne as immigration minister and Margaret Beckett has been appointed housing minister, replacing Caroline Flint.
Phil Hope MP