Jeremy Hunt has announced the social care green paper on older people’s care has been delayed until autumn, after a long-term funding plan for the NHS was revealed.
Speaking in the House of Commons on Monday, the secretary of state said the government had chosen to delay the publication of the green paper as it wanted to “integrate plans for social care with the new NHS plan”.
Hunt added it was “not possible to have a plan for one sector without having a plan for the other” and emphasised that it “did not make sense” to publish the green paper before the NHS plan had been drafted.
It was announced last November that the government would publish a green paper on care and support for older people by summer 2018. Damian Green, then first secretary of state, said it was important that the government “took the time needed” to debate the “many complex issues” which surround adult social care.
Following the Prime Minister’s announcement last week that the NHS would receive an extra £20bn a year by 2023 to celebrate its 70th birthday, it appears the government has chosen to exercise the option to extend discussions, with integration a primary focus.
Shadow secretary of state for health, Jonathan Ashworth, questioned Hunt’s decision to delay the review and accused the government of showing a “total abdication of responsibility” to support social care in light of the decision to increase NHS spending.
Some of those working in the sector took to social media to voice their frustration at the delay. Meanwhile, others recognised that an extension to the publication date could be beneficial.
#SocialCare green paper delay – v disappointing so time to redouble efforts to:
⭐️ make positive case for social care for all ages
⭐️ focus on #QualityMatters
⭐️ show how investment in social care delivers results
⭐️ ensure people are at the heart
⭐️ & don’t give up!
— Andrea Sutcliffe (@Crouchendtiger7) 19 June 2018
— Richard Humphries (@RichardatKF) 18 June 2018
Green Paper for England to be delayed until Autumn. Probably better if it’s a stronger document, with coherent proposals for the public, but suggests @DHSCgovuk haven’t got ducks in a row just 4 weeks before intended publication.
— Colin Angel at UKHCA (@colintwangel) 18 June 2018
BREAKING – @jeremy_hunt announces in Parliament no Green Paper until autumn. With this delay onus now on Govt to come up with game-changing ideas & funding to match when it does emerge. Also makes compelling case for interim £ in Budget.
— Caroline Abrahams (@Car_Abrahams) 18 June 2018
Responding to the government’s announcement, Glen Garrod, president of the Association of the Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS), said:
“The decision to delay the social care green paper caps off a disappointing few days for everyone involved in social care, including our dedicated workforce but more importantly the people we serve.”
“With a delayed green paper and no additional funding, the brutal reality is that older and disabled people, and their families, are struggling now.”
“We need this green paper to be delivered as soon as possible. The NHS is now in a position to make long-term plans based on a long-term funding solution. Social care can do neither.”
Maris Stratulis, Manager of the British Association of Social Workers England (BASW), echoed feelings of frustration.
“It is incredibly disappointing that the social care green paper has been delayed. It makes one question the government’s commitment to invest, support and strengthen the social care sector and address the needs of vulnerable adults, carers, families and communities”.
“The timing of this announcement is not helpful, and we fully support our colleagues in ADASS and across the sector on this important issue,” he said.
“As BASW set out in our position statement on the green paper, social workers will continue to do their utmost to support adults and carers. However, we urgently need government to address the issue of sustainable funding for social care so that people who need support can be confident they will receive it,” Stratulis added.