It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship today, Mr Streeter. I congratulate Tracey Crouch, both on securing the debate and on the sincerity that shone through in her contribution. I strongly agree with a number of the points that she made.
During the summer, I addressed a meeting convened by the Birmingham branch of Carers UK—an outstanding organisation nationally and in Birmingham. What shone through was that there is no more noble cause than caring. At that meeting, 200 were present, including people who were cared for, carers and the organisations that support them. Deep concern was expressed on two fronts, the first of which relates to an issue that we are not here to debate: the cuts to benefits and the work being done by the Hardest Hit coalition, which includes the Royal National Institute of Blind People, Mencap and others. The second issue relates to the growing crisis in social care. In one sense, the crisis is the consequence of a good thing—people are living longer—but there are undoubtedly two major problems. One, I agree, is that successive Governments have failed to implement a long-term solution to the growing crisis in social care. The other is the impact being felt now of cuts in public expenditure. The Government are going too far too fast, and that is having an increasingly serious impact on the most vulnerable in our society.
Looking to the future, the Dilnot review offers a new dawn. Its recommendations have been widely welcomed across the political spectrum. As we move towards implementation, it is key that Dilnot is fully funded and that its recommendations in respect of eligibility are carried through, so that what happened in Birmingham—I will say more about that later—never happens again. I agree strongly with the hon. Member for Chatham and Aylesford that its recommendations must be acted on as soon as possible. She is right that there has been a propensity in the past to kick such issues into the long grass. That cannot be the case in future. I sense that, across the spectrum, there is a desire in the House for the Government to act as soon as possible. They will unquestionably have the full support of the Opposition if they do.