Minister ponders shift on future of adult care services proposals

The government is considering ditching plans to follow the adult
social care green paper with a white paper this autumn, Community
Care has learned.

Care services minister Liam Byrne is understood by social care
leaders to favour implementing the government’s adult care vision
with a series of documents rather than through one policy

This would reverse a commitment to produce a white paper given by
former community care minister Stephen Ladyman when the green paper
was launched in March.

But the Department of Health said no decision would be taken on the
future of adult social care policy until after the consultation on
the green paper finished on 28 July.

The absence of any policy statement on adult services following the
green paper would cause anxiety within the sector.

However, social care leaders are not wedded to the idea of a
stand-alone white paper.

One alternative gaining support within the Association of Directors
of Social Services is to include social care within this year’s
planned white paper on out-of-hospital health care, to promote a
“whole systems” approach to community care services.

Co-chair of the ADSS disabilities committee John Dixon said: “I
would favour that. So often you get a development on one side [of
the social care and health divide] and it’s not matched on the
other side.”

The ADSS is to discuss with its partners in the adult interagency
group whether to lobby for an integrated white paper in their
response to the green paper. But Dixon said there were “obviously
concerns if too much time is spent talking about health” in any
white paper.

John Knight, head of policy at disability charity Leonard Cheshire,
said: “A joint white paper is not how I would want important social
care policy to be developed.

“It’s about the signals it sends out to people who use social care
services and people who work in social care services.”

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