A weary sense of deja vu
So we are to be favoured with a Green Paper sometime next summer.
Theresa May’s insistence on the importance of an exact date for Brexit rings hollow alongside her government’s insouciant deferral of the Green Paper. They say “it is right that we take the time needed to debate the many complex issues and listen to the perspectives of experts and care users, to build consensus around reforms which can succeed.” They’ve had years to do this.
It is with a weary sense of deja vu that I recall that the release of the last social care Green Paper was deferred. Green Papers are of course standard practice for appearing to address an issue while not actually doing anything. A panel of the great and good comes up with a few suggestions which are then put out to general consultation. This will take us to next autumn. Then, maybe, we’ll be treated to a White Paper, or policy paper, proclaiming the Government’s preferred option. This in turn will be put on hold while the Treasury conducts an ‘impact review’ and at some indeterminate point in the future, the Government will say its preferred option is impractical at this time and the whole thing will be shelved for a year or two. Job done, and at a fraction of the cost to implement any real change.
By which time, the present shower might be out of office and all bets will be off anyway while Jeremy Corbyn settles himself into the driving seat. Since the 2003 Sutherland Royal Commission into Social Care we have been on this merry-go-round of Green Papers and White Papers. I suppose we’d call him a terrorist today but one can have a degree of sympathy with Guy Fawkes’ bid to light the blue touch paper.
Meanwhile unmet need continues to grow and a lot of frail elderly people are being short-changed. But as I have often said, social care does not rank highly in the nation’s collective conciousness. This was evidenced in Radio 4’s ‘Any Questions’ on Saturday; the debate on social care was superficial and very brief compared to the time spent on school budgets, ditto for the phone-in afterwards. So we shouldn’t be surprised when government reflects the will – or in this case – the apathy of the people.
I’m ready to be underwhelmed on Wednesday.
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