Social work experts are welcoming the appointment of Liberal Democrat MP Paul Burstow as the new care services minister.
The Sutton and Cheam MP is being described as a useful counterpoint to the Conservative health secretary Andrew Lansley, given Burstow’s understanding of and interest in social care.
However, questions are being raised over whether his appointment will lead to any quicker reform of the funding of adult social care.
Although Burstow’s portfolio has not been officially revealed, he told Community Care that he was “delighted to have this opportunity to shape social care policy”.
Neil Coyle, director of policy for the pressure group Disability Alliance, welcomed Burstow’s appointment as a “strong and useful person” but pointed out that neither the Lib Dem or Tory manifesto outlined any plans for full-scale reform of adult social care funding.
Coyle said: “He could be useful, but the Lib Dems have proposed the equivalent of another Royal Commission to look at the long-term funding of care services for older people.
“We’ve already had a Royal Commission, we’ve had a big debate and two green papers. There’s a lot of consensus in the disability and older people’s movement as to what’s needed so we hope for action very quickly for developing something like a national care service as proposed in [Labour’s] White Paper.”
Stephen Burke, chief executive of Counsel and Care, said: “We look forward to working with Paul Burstow and renewing relations with him.”
Carers UK added: “He brings with him a wealth of experience.”
West Sussex Council’s director of social and caring services, John Dixon, said: “He’s worked opposite the previous care services ministers in the past and he seems to have listened and got his head around some of the issues. It’s a positive step.”