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Social Care Green Paper postponed until autumn

Nurse holding hand of senior woman in pension home

Parliament has been informed that the eagerly-awaited Green Paper on the reform of funding for care and support for older people has been postponed until the autumn. The announcement was made by Health and Social Care Secretary Jeremy Hunt prior to his move to become the new Foreign Secretary.

With social care funding in crisis, the policy paper was initially due in summer 2017. It was delayed until July 2018 and has now been postponed again.

Explaining the delay, Jeremy Hunt said:

“Whilst the long-term funding profile of the social care system will not be settled until the spending review, we will publish the social care Green Paper ahead of that.

However, because we want to integrate plans for social care with the new NHS plan, it does not make sense to publish it before the NHS plan has even been drafted. So, we now intend to publish the social care Green Paper in the autumn around the same time as the NHS plan.”

The delay has been universally criticised from within the care sector.

Responding to the change of plans, Glen Garrod, President of the Association of the Directors of Adult Social Services, said:

“It’s a real shame that the Government has decided to delay the Green Paper as the questions raised in it do need urgent answers. With a delayed Green Paper and no additional funding, the brutal reality is that older and disabled people, and their families, are struggling now. With fewer of them getting support until they get into crisis and need support in hospital, this is a very challenging situation for them, and their families and loved ones.”

Caroline Abrahams, co-chair of the Care and Support Alliance and Charity Director at Age UK, has responded to the announcement, saying that:

“The need for lots more investment in social care, coupled with reform, is now so great that any delay in the publication of the Green Paper is deeply regrettable, but frankly we’d rather have an ambitious set of proposals with the funding to match in the autumn than a timid paper that will not make any difference in July.

With this delay, the onus is now firmly on the Government to live up to its promises and come up with some game-changing ideas later in the year. The 80+ charities that make up the Care & Support Alliance and the millions of older people, sick and disabled adults and family carers whom we represent will be holding them to account for doing so.”

In a related move, Prime Minister Theresa May has announced that the NHS budget of £114 billion will rise by 3.4% annually on average. However, extra funds for the social care sector will not be announced until the Autumn Spending Review, delaying any benefits for the sector until 2020.

The Association of the Directors of Adult Social Services called the news ‘deeply disappointing’ and called on the government to find extra money for social care urgently. They warned that a third of councils have seen care providers close or cease to trade in the last six months.