Government failure to reform care system is 'a stain on our nation'

Government failure to reform the care system is ‘a stain on our nation’ says former commissioner as Boris Johnson says a new plan will be delivered in ‘the next few months’ amid claims of a furious Treasury row over funding

  • Sir Andrew Dilnot said a lack of action since was ‘extremely disappointing’ 
  • He recommended a raft of changes in a 2011 report which have not been made 
  • PM said fresh proposals would emerge ‘in the course of the next few months’

Britain’s social care system is a ‘stain in the nation’, Boris Johnson was told today amid claims that reform could again be delayed.

Sir Andrew Dilnot, who recommended sweeping changes a decade ago, said a lack of action since was ‘extremely disappointing’ ahead of an announcement expected in Tuesday’s Queen’s Speech. 

The Prime Minister said today that fresh proposals to create a fairer system for the elderly would emerge ‘in the course of the next few months’.

But reports today suggest that departments are at war over how to pay for it. The Telegraph reported that Mr Johnson supports Sir Andrew’s 2011 recommendation to cap costs at between £25,000 and £50,000, with the taxpayer covering the rest.

His report also recommended lifting the means-tested threshold for state support from £23,250 to £100,000.

But the Treasury is said to be resisting, saying the cost to the public finances would be huge in the wake of the Covid pandemic. 

Speaking to the BBC today, Sir Andrew said the current system was ‘extremely disappointing and that is probably a rather polite way of putting it.’

He  lashed out at both Labour and Conservative Governments for their handling of the issue in the past 25 years, adding: ‘This is a problem that has affected governments of all persuasions … all political parties and all of us have failed to get this done and it is a stain on our nation.  

The Prime Minister said today that fresh proposals to create a fairer system for the elderly would emerge ‘in the course of the next few months’.

Sir Andrew Dilnot, who recommended sweeping changes a decade ago, said a lack of action since was ‘extremely disappointing’ ahead of an announcement expected in Tuesday’s Queen’s Speech.

‘We saw through covid how difficult it can be to be in the social care sector both as a provider and as a consumer, we desperately need to sort this out.’ 

The Prime Minister was asked whether social care reform would feature in the Queen’s Speech next week as he visited the West Midlands today. 

‘Social care is a massive priority for this Government,’ he said.

‘I think the pandemic has helped to expose, well, it’s shown, the amazing work that social care workers do and all the help they give to our society.

‘They have been absolutely fantastic. They’ve borne the brunt of the pandemic, so we invest hugely in social care as a Government.

‘We support local councils, who have to bear much of the cost of social care, massively.

‘We put billions more into helping local government but we also have to think about the long-term issues, the long-term costs and how we should be funding it.

‘We’re determined to bring forward new proposals – there will be something about it in the course of the next few months.’

Experts warned in January this year that the failure to reform the crumbling care system is a major reason Britain has suffered one Europe’s worst death toll from Covid.

Of the 103,000 people in the UK who had died at the time from Covid-19, one in three – 31,000 – lived in care homes.

Fifteen medical bodies joined forces to demand Boris Johnson ‘drastically overhauls’ social care after the broken system was ‘brutally exposed’ by the pandemic.

The report warns social care spending has fallen by 12 per cent in the past decade, with 1.4million adults missing out on vital support. This has devastating consequences for the NHS, as vulnerable patients end up in A&E needlessly and become ‘stranded’ in hospital beds.

And in march the National Audit Office said the middle classes face a £20billion social care time bomb unless Boris Johnson delivers on his promise to reform the system,.

It reveals that the amount the middle classes will have to contribute towards their own old-age care is set to more than double in 20 years. 

It also found that a quarter of over-65s had an unmet care need as a result of failures in the system.

The NAO, the Government’s own spending watchdog, said the amount paid out by self-funders will go up from £10billion in 2018 to 21.2billion by 2038 – a 113 per cent rise. 

 This is because an ageing society means the number of pensioners requiring care will soar by 57 per cent. In addition, the expectation that more of them are likely to own their own home will make them liable for more of the cost. 

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