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Government quietly pushes back social care green paper to summer 2018

The government has quietly delayed publication of its much-anticipated social care green paper.

The document, which was initially expected this autumn, will now be published by summer 2018, first secretary Damian Green has said in a written statement.

Whilst the green paper is awaited, councils find themselves facing a “perfect storm” if underfunding continues.

Last month, the LGA warned the government that the Autumn Budget must allocate more funds to social care services, and Age UK found that almost four million bed days had been lost since 2011 due to difficulties in discharging patients from hospital into community care.

In his statement, Green said that the vision must incorporate the wider networks of services that support older people to live independently, and must embrace new technology and innovation to deliver better quality care. But to do this, the government must be able to “take the time” to consider issues properly.

“To deliver a lasting solution, it is right that we take the time needed to debate these complex issues and listen to a range of perspectives to build consensus,” he explained. “For this reason, over the coming months, we will work with experts, stakeholders and people using care and support services to shape the long-term reform which is urgently needed.

“The government will also engage closely with representatives from local government, the NHS, the voluntary sector and care providers, as well as with people who use care and support, to underpin development of the green paper.

“And when the green paper is published, it will then be subject to a full public consultation, providing a further opportunity for interested parties to give their views.”

Simon Botter, senior fellow for social care at the King’s Fund, said that the green paper, which is “some time coming,” will only be meaningful if there is a fundamental reform to the social care system.

“This is a challenge that previous governments have ducked and it is vital this government has the courage to deliver real change,” Botter added.

“Given that the government has decided to focus on older people, it is critical that it ensures the unique issues around working age adults are fully understood in a separate but linked process.”

He warned that the government must not use the development of the green paper as “an excuse for failing to address the immediate needs of the publicly funded social care sector, which faces a £2.5bn funding gap by 2020.

“Unless the chancellor finds additional funding in next week’s Budget, more people will be denied access to local authority-funded care, increasing pressures on those in need, their families and carers.”

Labour’s shadow minister for social care, Barbara Keeley, criticised the government for “dragging its feet over the long-term funding of social care at time when the system is creaking under winter pressures.”

Scandalously, on this trajectory it will have taken a year to publish this green paper from the date it was announced and will be even longer before we have a clear policy from the government,” she argued.

“Alarmingly, it also does not appear that the green paper will consult on working age people with social care needs.

“Given the current crisis in social care, the Tory Government must take immediate action to find a long-term solution to the social care crisis it has created.”

Niall Dickson, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, called the green paper’s delay “deeply disappointing.”

“The government promised reform before the election, then said there would be a green paper before Christmas, now it has been put off until summer next year - and event then we are not being promised firm commitments,” he said.

He welcomed the promise of reform, but described the need as “urgent."

“Given the fact that so many older people are being denied the help they need now, and the knock-on effect on health services is severe, the lack of urgency is highly regrettable,” concluded Dickson.

Top image: Matthias Zomer

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Karolina Gerlich   19/11/2017 at 16:50

The National Association of Carers and Support Workers (NACAS) believes that there is a huge amount of work to be done in social care, to improve care that we provide. There has been a lot of talk on the media about the Green Paper coming out next year. As the only independant representative of care and support workers, we have been invited by the government to consult on it. We see this as an opportunity to ensure that changes will improve care delivery as we care deeply about people we work with. NACAS will also ensure that future policy changes will recognise the importance of the work that we do, reinforce the value of training and improve working conditions. We would like to invite carers and support workers to become members and get involved so we can champion your views in the review. Please visit our website at

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