The new coalition government published some of the details about their plans for the next five (gulp) years yesterday. I had a brief glance at the issues as they relate to social care in particular.
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I feel distinctly underwhelmed, I have to say. I’m glad the Tories’ ‘insurance scheme’ has hit a road-block at least. It made no sense at all to me and didn’t really address a lot of the more widespread issues relating to social care funding. The Lib Dems seems to have dragged them back to the idea of negotiations and discussions.
Negotiations and discussions and commissions. That’s a bit of a drag. Haven’t we been here before? A few times. I know realistically there wasn’t another way forward but it feels like there is constant ploughing over the same paths again and again with more consultation documents about the same things. I wonder if the government really are serious about saving money when they just repeat the same consultations endlessly. At least the document mentioned the Wanless Report (which, incidently, I have a lot of time for). I wonder what difference the consultation will bring from consultations raised over the last few years and it seems like just another chance to delay the decision making even more.
All the other policies presented, apart from the completely unsurprising trashing of the ‘Personal Care at Home Bill’ which to be honest, didn’t make a whole lot of sense to me anyway, are just progressions of the ways things were moving in social care anyway.
Today’s coalition announcement sets out how the Government will push forward reform of social care. The Government will:
• establish an independent commission on the funding of long-term care, to report within a year;
Unsurprising – see above
• break down barriers between health and social care funding to incentivise preventative action;
More preventative action can’t really be argued against. Preventative work has been completely neglected in the face of cost-cutting in the short term and meeting performance indicators. I’ll be keeping a close eye on this one.
• extend the greater roll-out of personal budgets to both older and disabled people and carers to give more control and purchasing power; and
This was always going to happen regardless of which government was in power.
• increase direct payments to carers and better community-based provision to improve access to respite care.
Nice words – actually there has been a massive increase in respite provisions over the past few years and increasing it can only be a good thing.
The government has also promised to increase and prioritise funding into dementia research which is very positive. I wonder how much funding will be spared the scythe of government cuts in general though.
Burstow has been appointed as the Care Services Minister. He has, I understand, a fairly positive background in speaking up on social care matters. It could have been a lot worse, I guess and we’ll see if he has the power to battle it out with the Chief Secretary to the Treasury in order to secure funds for the department and the sector.
So I remain a little ambivalent. It’s hard to argue against any of the provisions made but where the difference will be made is in the amount of money that can be argued away from the Treasury by the Department of Health in the coming months.