Phil Hope’s appointment as the sector’s first minister of state by prime minister Gordon Brown’s has been welcomed by the sector for boosting the status of adult social care.
Hope, who will take responsibility for the green paper on the future of long-term adult care and its funding next year, will hold a higher rank than his three predecessors, Ivan Lewis, Liam Byrne and Stephen Ladyman.
Their status as parliamentary under secretaries of state – the lowest rung on the ministerial ladder – was seen as reflecting a lack of clout for the sector in Whitehall compared to other public service areas.
Sector welcomes appointment of Hope
Stephen Burke, chief executive of Counsel and Care, said: “By appointing a minister of state for care, the prime minister has signalled the importance of getting the right care and the right deal for everyone.”
A Local Government Association spokesperson said the elevation of adult care was “an important step”, adding: “It recognises the importance of social care and the priority it should have within government.”
John Knight, assistant director of policy and campaigns at Leonard Cheshire Disability, said Hope’s appointment was “good news for social care”, adding: “His thinking will be founded on individuals and outcomes.”
Help the Aged director of policy Paul Cann said: “He gave a lot of commitment and genuine consultation.”
Hope’s ministerial experience
Like Lewis, who has been moved to the Department for International Development, Hope comes to the job with relevant experience.
His previous post was as the Cabinet Office minister with responsibility for social exclusion and third sector, while before entering parliament, he was a teacher and youth policy adviser to the National Council for Voluntary Organisations. In an interview with Community Care in June, Hope said of the social exclusion agenda: “I’m absolutely passionate about this agenda. It’s what gets Labour politicians up in the morning (www.communitycare.co.uk/108459).”
In over two years as care services minister, Lewis has presided over the development of the green paper and a national dementia strategy for England, revised carers strategy (www.communitycare.co.uk/108539), and the launch of the three-year programme to personalise care services in England (www.communitycare.co.uk/personalisation).