Time for confrontation

Care services minister Liam Byrne says it is better to “confront”
the issue of social care’s status as poor relation to health than
pretend the problem isn’t there. That much is true, but it is
another matter whether the best place to confront it was the joint
health and social care white paper Byrne announced last week.

The Association of Directors of Social Services was bullish about
the announcement, not least because such a national symbol of
partnership can only serve the interests of integration locally.
The government’s decision is right to the extent that health was
the missing link in the adult green paper. The ambitions of the
green paper will require the full involvement of health,
particularly in strategic commissioning, if they are to be

But there are dangers too. The green paper treated social care on
its merits, as having the potential to liberate, empower and bring
out people’s strengths. Social care was seen as part of the broader
well-being agenda in local government. By ensuring that the white
paper holds to the same principles when it is published later this
year, Byrne will do much to confront the problem that he has set

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