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May's pledge on care: Election ear-tickling?

Blog post 8 May 2017

 Call me a cynic, but I’ve heard yesterday’s big social care news somewhere before . . . Theresa May is allegedly giving 'serious consideration' to introducing a cap on social care costs so the elderly do not have to lose their homes.

Hmm . . . According to credible national newspapers, the Prime Minister is said to be considering bringing forward plans to introduce the £72,000 cap so those receiving care do not lose everything.

I’d like to see this interest in social care funding a step forward, but I sense an old political ploy afoot here.

The term ‘giving serious consideration to’ for me is get-out-of-jail speak for policies that are nice, but perhaps unachievable.

David Cameron pushed back any action on social care capping to June 2020 as I suspect the Government’s books would not balance on the plan.

Doubtless the electioneering will get more interesting as we near Polling Day, but May’s comment has successfully ignited the imagination of headline writers and social care is again in the media arena.

May, I read in the Mail online is “expected to move it forward to 2019 as she makes tackling the social care crisis a central theme of her party's manifesto ahead of the General Election.”

And a ‘source’ we read told the Sunday Express: “What she wants from the manifesto is to address not just immediate issues but long-term and complex policy areas such as social care, which covers everything from the problems now to generational fairness.”

Reality dictates that the care industry needs massive reform in the way it is funded, but I’m not sure if this second phase of the Care Act is the right move. What’s more, it smacks of election ear tickling.

There’s a lot of business insecurity and we’ve already proven, I think, that the British public is not yet ready to shoulder the burden of social care costs. Surely we need a more stable foundation for the care sector before we start considering reintroducing shelved plans.

It’s not that I’m against capping, but monies need to found somewhere to fund the new living wage and the long-term approach to caring, NOW and 2019 polices light years away.

There is an intolerable strain on care providers and surely the Government needs to ensure they are paid a fair price for the care they deliver. After all, the Government has actively promoted private sector hive-offs, and local authority care homes have been part of that initiative. I’d submit that addressing the underfunding of social care is a more urgent priority than a cap.