Skip to main content

Social Care Reform

Volume 699: debated on Tuesday 13 July 2021

What recent discussions he has had with the Chancellor of the Exchequer on funding for a plan to reform social care for (a) older people and (b) people of working age. (902628)

I want people to be able to get the care they need when they need it and to have the choices they want. I want people to live their life in full and to live independently as part of a community for as long as possible without facing an astronomical care bill. We are committed to social care reform, and we will bring forward proposals this year.

I thank the Secretary of State for responding to my initial question. Eleven years into this Tory Government, 10 years on from Dilnot and almost 700 days since the Prime Minister promised

“to fix social care, once and for all”,

looking at it and studying the options is not enough for the four out of five people who say, “We need a solution now.” Is this just another of the Prime Minister’s promises that will not quite materialise?

We have already seen substantial increases in adult social care funding, but the Government have said that we want a long-term, sustainable solution, so we will bring forward proposals on that. The hon. Gentleman will know that later today we are debating the Health and Care Bill, which is also about structural reform, so I look forward to seeing him in the Aye Lobby.

May I just say to the Chancellor—the Secretary of State, rather—that when he brings forward the proposals, will he make sure that he addresses social care for working-age adults, which actually accounts for more than half of public spending? The debate is always focused on older people, and people of working age often get forgotten. The reason for my slip just now is that he will be aware, as a former Chancellor, that the tax burden was at a 50-year high before covid. When he brings forward the proposals, can we not just default to putting up taxes, however they are disguised, but look at overall Government spending, set some priorities and make some choices about what we think is important? Social care is important, but we need to make those choices about overall Government spending.

First, my right hon. Friend is right to bring to the House’s attention the way that the Government are also working on social care for working-age people. He is also right to point out—I was thinking about this the other day—that around 55% of total adult social care spending is for working-age adults, and it is important that we continue to provide that support. He will be pleased to know that I am working with the current Chancellor and other Cabinet colleagues on bringing forward a more sustainable long-term plan, and I hope he will support it when it comes forward.

I welcome what my right hon. Friend has said so far and the moves he is making to deal with the social care issue. One thing that elderly people particularly are worried about when they are in care or in hospital are the recent reports of “Do not attempt cardiopulmonary resuscitation” orders. Will my right hon. Friend give an assurance that they will only be put in place with the authority of the patient or their next of kin? Is he making inquiries into recent reports of their widespread use?

My hon. Friend will be interested to know that the Department commissioned the Care Quality Commission to review the DNACPR decisions that were being made during the first wave of the pandemic. That review was published in March, and the Department then established a new ministerial oversight group that will be responsible for delivery and the required changes that were recommended in the review. We want to ensure adherence to the guidance throughout the system whenever DNACPR orders are used. The first meeting of this new group will take place on 8 June.

I welcome the Secretary of State to his new position. I wondered whether he might be able to clarify something for me. Five days ago, he told the Local Government Association conference that for social care reform,

“we may not be able to announce the whole plan…with all the details there”,

but that he hoped to

“set out…the general sense of direction”.

The general sense of direction! It is two years since the Prime Minister made a clear promise to fix the crisis in social care “once and for all”. Since then, more than 40,000 care home residents have died from covid-19 and 2 million elderly and disabled people have applied for care but had their request turned down. Millions more families and staff have been pushed to breaking point, so may I ask the Secretary of State: what is the plan? When will we see the plan? Will it provide the full details that he and the Minister for Care, the hon. Member for Faversham and Mid Kent (Helen Whately) have promised, or does keeping your word mean nothing to anyone in government anymore?

I think the hon. Lady may well have misunderstood what I said at the conference; I am not sure she listened to the whole session. It is worth repeating that the Government are absolutely committed to coming forward with a sustainable plan for adult social care and to bringing forward that plan to make sure that every person when they reach old age in our country can have the dignity they deserve. We will bring forward full proposals—a full plan—this year.