Adult social care funding reform could be delayed by a hung parliament, after the election failed to deliver a conclusive majority to any party.
Before the outcome of the election was known, Community Care spoke to key figures about what a hung parliament would mean for adult care, with a number raising concerns.
Richard Jones, president of the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services, said: “Hung parliaments don’t have a track record of working for a very long in this country and it might be a year or so before another national election. The question is do we have sufficient time to build adult social care as a priority against all the other competing priorities such as the economy? That could take longer than a year or 18 months.”
Richard Humphries, senior fellow at The King’s Fund, also warned the hung parliement could lead to further procrastinating over a plan for funding reforms.
Any proposals will depend on whether a minority Conservative government or a Labour/Liberal Democrat coalition takes power.
Both Labour and the Lib Dems support the establishment of a cross-party commission to put forward a new funding system, but this is rejected by the Conservatives because of their opposition to any compulsory levy to fund care. In an interview with Community Care last month, Lib Dem shadow health secretary Norman Lamb said he would use the Lib Dems’ bargaining power in a hung parliament to argue for a commission.
Des Kelly, executive director of voluntary providers’ umbrella body the National Care Forum, said: “The critical thing is whether or not the new government will support the proposals to get a cross-party commission on the funding of adult social care up and running. This would be a great opportunity for an early win by any new government.”
Andrew Cozens, the Local Government Association’s group lead for adult social care, said a hung parliament could achieve changes, pointing out that many councils have operated without a clear majority and still achieved reforms.
Speaking this morning, Liberal Democrat MP Paul Burstow, who retained his seat in Sutton and Cheam, London, said: “It’s a test for all politicians now of whether or not we can work together. The electorate has rejected all of our ideas and not trusted any of us to rule by not giving us a majority.”
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