Boris Johnson’s ministers have been warned to “keep their word” and fix social care, after the new Health Secretary signalled plans would be delayed yet again.
Sajid Javid said the pandemic had stalled the Government’s long-awaited social care green paper but “quite soon” ministers would have “general sense of direction” on the policy.
Labour told Mr Javid “families have heard enough excuses”, while Caroline Abrahams, Age UK’s Director, said: “The Prime Minister has promised to bring forward plans to ‘fix social care’ this year, and we think it is crucial that he and his Government keep their word. ”
When Mr Johnson took office two years ago, he promised to end social care injustice, vowing on the steps of Downing Street: “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.”
Since then tens of thousands have sold their homes to pay for care and more than 40,000 care home residents have died of Covid.
A study by the GMB union found that more than 130,000 people are trapped in social care debt and almost one in three unable to afford it.
As part of the Mirror’s Fair Care for All campaign, this newspaper has been demanding the elderly get proper care and are not abandoned or forced to sell their homes.
But at the Local Government Association conference on Friday, Mr Javid offered little hope the crisis would be tackled any time soon.
He admitted the Government had a “big task” to “put social care on a sustainable footing for the future”, but went on: “But we know that the job isn’t done. Governments have recognised you for years now that we need a new settlement on social care. We need a new approach.
“Now we all want to see high quality personalised care. We all want to see fairer ways of paying for that care, and we all want people to have the choice of housing that works for them.”
The minister said he was taking the issue “seriously” and had held three meetings since being appointed a week ago.
But he also tried to blame the two-year delay on Covid, saying officials “would have made some more progress” but for the pandemic.
He went on: “I do hope we’re able to come forward with a plan. At this point, I don’t want to put an exact date on it but work is intense.
“We might not be able to announce the whole plan that we’ve been working on together with all the details there, but I think we can set out quite soon the general sense of direction in terms of our new offering on social care.”
Shadow minister for social care Liz Kendall said: “The Government have had over a decade to set out the ‘general direction’ of their social care reforms, yet have repeatedly failed to do so.
“Social care staff, users and their families have heard enough excuses – it’s time to see the plan the Prime Minister said he had prepared in 2019.”