politics

Boris Johnson's two years of care home failure – after he claimed plan was ready


Two years ago to this day, Boris Johnson stood on the steps of Downing Street and promised to fix social care “once and for all”.

In whis first speech as Prime Minister, Mr Johnson said his party had a “clear and prepared plan”.

Now 24 months on, we are still yet to see any sign of that plan.

And every month tens of thousands more people become dependent on the social care system.

This week Number 10 said claimed to be “committed to bringing forward a long term plan to reform the social care system” and added the Governemnt will set out proposals this year.

The Prime Minister has maanged to avoid laying out these proposals for two years. Furious?

Here’s what you need to know…

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Carrie Symonds watches as Boris Johnson makes his first speech outside Downing Street as Prime Minister
Carrie Symonds watches as Boris Johnson makes his first speech outside Downing Street as Prime Minister

What did Boris Johnson say in 2019?

The Prime Minister stood on the steps of Downing Street and said: “My job is to serve you the people. My job is to make sure you don’t have to wait three weeks to see your GP.

“We start work this week with 20 new hospital upgrades and ensuring that the money for the NHS really does get to the frontline.

“My job is to protect you or your parents or grandparents from the fear of having to sell your home to pay for the costs of care.

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“And so I am announcing on the steps of Downing Street that we will fix the crisis in social care once and for all with a clear plan we have prepared to give every older person the dignity and security they deserve.

“That is the work that begins immediately behind that black door.

“And though I am today building a great team of men and women, I will take personal responsibility for the change I want to see.”



Standing outside Downing Street, the PM said he wanted the elderly to not have to sell their homes to pay for the costs of care
Standing outside Downing Street, the PM said he wanted the elderly to not have to sell their homes to pay for the costs of care

Was that true?

No.

Mr Johnson said he would be able to come up with a plan within the next year and have those changes rolled out by 2025.

Speaking seven months later, he vowed to put the changes in front of MPs this year and enacted “within this Parliament” – giving the Government a five-year deadline.

No one knew a pandemic would hit a few months later, we’re now 18 months into the pandemic.

After three lockdowns later, the Prime Minister is yet to start cross-party talks on social care reforms.

Sir Andrew Dilnot who drew up the original plans for social care reform 10 years ago told The Telegraph it would be a “tragedy” if a deal could not be reached.

He added: “What really matters, in terms of delay, is the risking of blighting another generation of people who need care.”



Boris Johnson vowed to reform social care by 2025 when he was elected Prime Minister
Boris Johnson vowed to reform social care by 2025 when he was elected Prime Minister

Why has it been delayed again?

Last Friday the PM met with Health Secretary Sajid Javid and Chancellor Rishi Sunak for talks, that reports claim, included final plans on social care.

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The deal was expected to be announced at Parliament this week, but after Mr Javid tested positive for coronavirus, the Chancellor and the PM have been forced into self-isolation.

They had been speaking with the Health Secreatry who tested postive for Covid the following day.

On top of their quarantines, the National Insurance hike Mr Johnson had been considering was said to be too controversial.

The PM had been considering plans to raise national insurance payments by one percentage point for employers and employees to raise £10 billion a year to help support the ageing population.

But the proposal would smash a hole through the Tories’ 2019 manifesto pledge not to raise National Insurance, Income Tax or VAT until at least 2024.



The PM and Chancellor are said to be at loggerheads over spending
The PM and Chancellor are said to be at loggerheads over spending

On Wednesday, No 10 said “no decisions” had been made.

But on Thursday, Business Secretary Kwasi Kwateng was asked if there could be no national insurance hike.

He told Sky News: “That’s what it says in the manifesto, I don’t see how we could increase national insurance, but you know things have been very flexible over the last 18 months, we’ve lived through an unprecedented time, we’ve been spending huge amounts of money that we never thought was possible and it’s up to the Chancellor and the Treasury, and the wider Government, to decide a budget.”

Caroline Abrahams, Charity Director at Age UK said: “The past 18 months have been horrific for everyone involved in social care, without doubt the toughest this vital public service has ever been through.

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“The endless dither and delay is costing us as a country, as well as putting unbearable pressure on older people who need good care, and the staff who do their best every day to provide it, working against the odds.

“Nothing we do now can bring back all those older people who have died before their time in care homes during the pandemic, but at the very least we must make sure a similar tragedy can never happen again.”





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