The government will publish a consultation on proposals to improve social care.
The move was outlined in the Queen’s Speech at the opening of parliament yesterday. There was no more detail about what the proposals in the consultation would include.
Without a majority government, the Conservative Party appears to have backed away from controversial proposals for reforming the way social care was funded – which critics dubbed a ‘dementia tax’ – that were detailed in the party’s manifesto.
Under the proposals, people requiring residential or home care would have paid the full costs of their care until their assets (including their housing wealth) fell to £100,000. The party later announced there would be a cap on the amount people would have to pay, but did not specify what amount.
A manifesto pledge to reform mental health legislation did make it into the Queen’s Speech but there was no mention of reforms to the law on deprivation of liberty, despite the Law Commission providing ministers with draft legislation earlier this year.
Responding to the speech Margaret Willcox, president of the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services, welcomed the consultation and said the government needed to keep social care at the top of its priorities.
“A long-term funding solution that will work for everyone, regardless of their means, or nature of their disability, has to be a national priority to ensure certainty and continuity of personal, dignified care to the growing number of people living longer and with increasingly complex and costly needs,” Willcox said.
She also said she was “encouraged” by proposed mental health reforms.
Vicky McDermott, chair of the Care and Support Alliance, also welcomed the consultation, but said it must not be an excuse to kick social care “into the long grass”.
“The fact is we’ve had 20 years of consultations and commissions but there has been a political failure to act to secure sustainable funding for care. The case for reform has never been so strong,” McDermott said.
Alison Michalska, president of the Association of Directors of Children’s Services, welcomed commitments to protect victims of domestic violence and plans for stricter sentences for abusive behavior that involves a child that will be included in a draft domestic violence bill.
However, Michalska said there needed to be more clarity on the future funding for children’s services.
“Children’s services face funding shortages of their own and there was very little information in [yesterday’s] speech about the future of local government financing. With fundamental changes to the way in which we are funded expected in 2020, there is a need for more clarity on this issue as a matter of urgency,” Michalska said.