Social Care Green Paper

Health and Social Care – in the House of Commons on 19th February 2019.

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Photo of Giles Watling Giles Watling Conservative, Clacton

When his Department plans to publish the Green Paper on social care.

Photo of Caroline Dinenage Caroline Dinenage Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)

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.

Photo of Giles Watling Giles Watling Conservative, Clacton

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?

Photo of Caroline Dinenage Caroline Dinenage Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)

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.

Photo of Kate Hollern Kate Hollern Shadow Minister (Housing, Communities and Local Government)

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?

Photo of Caroline Dinenage Caroline Dinenage Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)

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.

Photo of Chris Leslie Chris Leslie Independent, Nottingham East

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?

Photo of Caroline Dinenage Caroline Dinenage Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)

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.

Photo of Barbara Keeley Barbara Keeley Shadow Minister (Mental Health and Social Care)

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?

Photo of Caroline Dinenage Caroline Dinenage Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)

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.