Phil Hope’s first big test

As expected, Ivan Lewis was moved out of his post as care services minister following the Cabinet reshuffle at a crucial time for social care. Lewis made personalisation, with the far-reaching reforms it entails, his personal mission, and it will be an enormous challenge for his successor to provide the leadership that both this policy and the forthcoming green paper on social care funding require.

So it is reassuring to find that the Department of Health’s social care brief has been taken over by Phil Hope, seen as a safe pair of hands in his previous role as charities minister, where he will have become familiar with some of the issues confronting social care. Better still, social care’s status has been raised because as minister of state Hope enjoys a more senior rank than Lewis did as a junior minister.

Weighing down Hope’s in-tray will be the review of No Secrets, the government guidance on safeguarding vulnerable adults. The review, due out this month for consultation, is unlikely to recommend the child protection-style legislation to safeguard adults that social services directors and others had wanted.

We have some sympathy with those who say such legislation runs counter to the libertarian principles of personalisation. But some formal safeguards are necessary, principally regulation of brokers and personal assistants, and a more proactive approach to protection among local agencies.

No Secrets will be Hope’s first big test and he will be judged on his success in dealing with it.

This article is published in the 9 October edition of Community Care under the headline “Hope’s first big test”

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