By passing the Care Act 2014, this Government established a national eligibility threshold that defines the care needs that local authorities are required to meet. This eliminates the postcode lottery of eligibility across England. Social care continues to be a key priority for this Government. That is why local authorities in England will receive an additional £2 billion for social care over the next three years. In the longer term, we are committed to establishing adult social care on a fair and more sustainable basis.
Age UK estimates that nearly 1.2 million older people have unmet care needs. After the Government dropped their disastrous dementia tax policy during the general election, all they can offer people is yet another consultation. In the words of Dr Wollaston, the Chair of the Health Committee, is it not time the Government just got “on with it”?
I do not recognise Age UK’s assessment of unmet need. As I said, the requirements are enshrined in statute and local authorities should be held to that. In response to the hon. Lady’s final point, let me say that we are getting on with it, but we need a real cultural change in how we tackle these issues. There is a long-term issue to address in the fact that we are all living longer. This is not just going to need a sticking plaster; we will need to take the public with us. So this is not just another consultation; it is a vehicle for making sure that we as a society tackle this issue once and for all.
The Royal Cornwall Hospitals NHS Trust was put into special measures last week, but delayed discharge caused by unmet social care needs contributes to the pressure in the trust. I welcome the £12 million that was awarded to the council this April to address that, but what more can the Minister do to help to relieve the pressure? Will he meet me and my Cornish colleagues to discuss the healthcare challenges faced in Cornwall and on Scilly?