A weary sense of deja vu

Posted on November 20th, by geoff in Caring Times, CT blog. 4 comments

By Caring Times editor GEOFF HODGSON

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.

  • The CT Blog is written in a personal capacity – comments and opinions expressed are not necessarily endorsed or supported by Caring Times.

4 responses to “A weary sense of deja vu”

  1. I note that a) the Green Paper will focus on care of older people, not on the fastest-rising area of demand which is adults of working age with disabilities; b) on the expert advisory panel, there is no-one from a carers’ perspective, despite their being one of the main support arms in social care, and without which it couldn’t function; c) on the expert advisory panel there is no-one coming either from a workforce perspective, or – other than Care UK – from the provider side. It may be that those on the panel have enough knowledge and experience to allow for this. But in terms of getting buy-in from across the sector, it’s not helpful. It feels like going through the motions – yet again – for the sake of throwing a sop to older voters.

    • Bob Ferguson says:

      In light of providers’ token representation on the expert panel, all the more reason for the sector as a whole – to be clear, not just those with the most money or the biggest mouths – to ensure that its perspectives are among the “wide range of views” to be considered.
      It would undoubtedly help were it to offer a reasoned and coherent case for the future of the care industry. A case that, in recognising social care as only one of many areas of the economy that are competing for scarce resources, makes explicit providers’ willingness – as citizens and taxpayers – to contribute to a national solution.

  2. Derek Breingan says:

    At what point does the sector and its stakeholders make a stand? CQC in its recent State of the Nation report could not have been clearer. The government is ignoring all the warning signs. Suspect we will again see a slug of money being put into the NHS because that goes down well with the electorate. Well written Geoff.

  3. Mandy Thorn says:

    I share Debbie Sorkin’s misgivings and echo her comments as well as agreeing with Bob Ferguson.

    Looking at the make up of the panel of “independent experts” it seems obvious the government is seeking a financial solution for those with assets or cash; not looking at the future of social care and its massively supportive role to the NHS – such narrow mindedness is unhelpful and will just ensure that what is delivered in the future is the same as what has always been delivered in the past but paid for in a different way

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