The government’s failure to bring forward details of its plans to reform adult social care in the Queen’s speech has triggered anger and frustration from the social care sector, amid warnings that hundreds of thousands of vulnerable people will be left without the support they need.
A single line in the Queen’s speech on Tuesday morning stated simply: “Proposals on reforms to social care will be brought forward.” Further details of any future changes are now not expected until the autumn at the earliest.
“We are frustrated that the can, yet again, has been kicked down the road, despite this government promising in 2019 that it would transform our social care system. Vague slogans won’t ensure people receive the care and support they need,” said Deborah Alsina, chief executive of the charity Independent Age.
Martin Green, the chief executive of Care England, which represents independent social care providers, said: “This is a missed opportunity. Without the much needed, not to mention heralded, reform it is questionable as to how much longer the sector can be expected to limp on.”
Mike Padgham, chair of the Independent Care Group, said: “Yes, social care was mentioned in the Queen’s speech but in reality, the government was just paying lip service to the reform that is now so long overdue. If the government is so committed to reforming social care, as the prime minister and other ministers keep telling us they are, then we need to see it happen.”
It is almost two years since the prime minister, Boris Johnson, promised on the steps of Downing street a “clear plan to fix the crisis in social care once and for all”. Disputes with the Treasury on how to fund the reforms, which were in the Conservatives’ 2019 manifesto, are said to have hampered progress.
Damian Green, the Tory MP and former Cabinet Office minister who commissioned a government green paper on social care in 2017, said he was frustrated by the lack of progress: “I am absolutely insistent that this needs to be the year for action and decision rather than kicking the can down the road any further.”
Fiona Carragher, director of research at Alzheimer’s Society said the past year had shown that vulnerable people had been worst hit by the pandemic, including the deaths of 34,000 people with dementia from the virus. “Many, many more are rapidly deteriorating. Vague promises are no longer enough.”