Ministers have again failed to fix the social care crisis by kicking the issue down the road following years of delays. Insiders claim the broken care
Ministers have again failed to fix the social care crisis by kicking the issue down the road following years of delays.
Insiders claim the broken care system will not be fixed until after Brexit, as experts warned that 60,000 elderly people have died waiting for help while reforms were repeatedly put off.
Theresa May said it was time to stop ‘ducking the issue’ two years ago after the Tories first pledged a Green Paper – a preliminary report of government proposals.
Insiders claim the broken care system will not be fixed until after Brexit, as experts warned that 60,000 elderly people have died waiting for help while reforms were repeatedly put off (file photo)
But last night it emerged that the release of the plan has been put off until after a Brexit deal passes Parliament, which could take months.
Age UK said the delays had devastating consequences, with tens of thousands forced to struggle without the home help they need to live a decent life in their final months.
Director Caroline Abrahams added: ‘Older people and their families are suffering in huge numbers because of ministers’ lack of firm action.’
The delay also means that many older people will continue to face sky-high social care bills that eat up much of their children’s inheritance.
Mrs May addressed England’s social care crisis during the election campaign of 2017, saying in April that year: ‘We need to stop ducking the issue. We need to ensure we have got that long-term solution for a sustainable future for social care.’
But two years later, the Green Paper has still not been published.
A senior Tory source admitted: ‘I’m not aware of any fixed point for its publication. It won’t be any time soon.’
Another Whitehall insider confirmed there was no prospect of it being brought back until Brexit is resolved, adding: ‘Social care is high on the list of issues that are just too difficult at the moment.
‘Nothing is going to happen while Brexit is up in the air, and even then it is hard to see how we’d do it. You’d need consensus on the way ahead and a parliamentary majority to push it through – and we are a long way from either.’
Yesterday, Mrs May’s former deputy put forward proposals to run the system along the same lines as pensions.
Damian Green said pensioners must consider giving up some housing wealth if they want quality care in old age – and suggested charging the over-50s a National Insurance surcharge of 1 per cent.
Last night, the Government would only say that the Green Paper would be published ‘at the earliest opportunity’.
Damian Green said pensioners must consider giving up some housing wealth if they want quality care in old age – and suggested charging the over-50s a National Insurance surcharge of 1 per cent (file photo)
First due in July last year, it was delayed until the autumn and then to January this year before being put off until April, when the UK was originally meant to have left the EU.
The latest delay was forced because so much parliamentary time will have to be spent passing Brexit legislation. There are also thought to be disagreements between the Treasury and the Department of Health over how to proceed.
Age UK said 77 people have died every day on average over the past two years waiting for their local council to agree a care package – a total of 60,353 since the Green Paper was first promised in March 2017.
Miss Abrahams said: ‘With the political uncertainty over Brexit, many are now questioning whether the document will ever see the light of day.’
The delay comes seven years after a social care commission suggested a cap on care costs. At present, older people must pay the full cost of their care until their savings – including wealth tied up in property – are down to just £23,250.
Barbara Keeley, Labour’s social care spokesman, said: ‘The Government is failing vulnerable older people.’
Mrs May’s official spokesman said: ‘Clearly, this is a complex area. The Green Paper will be published in due course.’