The Green Paper on adult social care remains a priority for the Government. We will shortly be publishing this document, which sets out proposals to reform the adult social care system.
I thank my hon. Friend for her answer. This issue was raised with me recently by Councillor John Spence of Essex County Council. I am concerned that two years later, we are still waiting for the publication of the Green Paper. Of course, we must get it right, but people need change to the social care system and they need it now. What further steps can she take to speed up this process?
I understand that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has met the gentleman my hon. Friend refers to. I understand and share my hon. Friend’s frustration. We need to ensure that the social care system is sustainable in the long term and we have taken some time to get these big decisions right, but I can assure him that the Green Paper will be published at the earliest opportunity.
Order. Kate Hollern could very legitimately shoehorn her inquiry on question 18, which might not be reached, into this question, which has been. It is not obligatory, but don’t be shy—get in there.
Perhaps the Minister can respond about her failings with regard to Government cuts and local government, and particularly the impact on social care, because the Government have created a postcode lottery on the quality of care that residents face, particularly in Blackburn. The Secretary of State spoke about political nonsense to my hon. Friend the Member for Wallasey (Ms Eagle). What is a political nonsense is that Blackburn has faced a 60% funding cut from this Government, whereas Windsor and Maidenhead has had only a 19% cut. The Government are creating a postcode lottery for adult social care in particular, and it is not acceptable. What is the Minister going to do address the inequalities between areas?
Nobody can accuse the hon. Lady of failing to take full advantage of my generosity.
I do not agree with the hon. Lady. What the Government have done is try to tackle the geographical inequalities in care across the country. We have increased councils’ access to funding by up to £10 billion. That is a 9% real-terms increase in funding, but in addition to that, we have established a national threshold that defines the care needs that local authorities must meet under the Care Act. That has really started the work of eliminating the eligibility postcode lottery across England.
It is two years since the Government promised the social care Green Paper. In that space of time, we have had a lot of words from the Government, but we have also had a lot of neglect from them on this particular issue. Does not this delay, this prevarication, putting long-term issues to the back burner, typify what is wrong with the broken politics in this country?
First, I welcome the hon. Gentleman to his new location in the Chamber. From that location, he might recognise that actually, there has been a failure of successive Governments to get to grips with this very thorny issue of the long-term funding of adult social care. We are the Government who have decided to tackle the issue. We will no longer put it in the “too difficult” pile, and we will be publishing this document shortly.
But the Government are not tackling the problem of the long-term funding of social care, are they? Age UK found that 50,000 people who had applied for social care had died waiting in vain for that care in the 700 days after the Government first announced their Green Paper. How many more people will have to die waiting in vain for social care before the Government fix the crisis they have created?
I cannot stress enough how much money we have made available. The Government have given councils access to almost £10 billion—a 9% increase—to address this issue. Local authorities have a statutory duty to look after the vulnerable, the elderly and the disabled people in their area, and we have given them access to the funding to do it.