Dan Parton[08/05/2012] hopes the call for social care reform gets heard:
Today, the Care and Support Alliance published an open letter to the Prime Minister calling for urgent social care reform. But Ifear this call will fall on deaf ears.
The Care and Support Alliance - a group of 78 charities,campaign groups and campaigners, including Rethink Mental Illness and the Alzheimer's Society - made the call (see here) ahead of tomorrow's Queen's Speech, which, it is rumoured, will not contain details of a social care bill.
If this rumour is true, it will put any legislation to reform social care back until the following parliamentary session. This means any legislation will not become law before late 2013 at the earliest. It would also delay any funding decisions until after the next comprehensive spending review, which is set for autumn 2013.
Without reform, the Alliance warns, "too many older and disabled people will be left in desperate circumstances: struggling on alone, living in misery and fear".
The letter comes after rumours emerged last week that a social care bill was not going to be included in the Queen's Speech on May 9.
Fears had been growing that something like this might happen onceit became clear that the social care white paper, long promised for this spring, would now not be published until June, at the earliest.
Additionally, it is thought that the white paper will now focus more on the quality of care provision, with funding issues addressed in a separate 'progress' document. It is also rumoured that little headway has been made on this aspect of care reform.
It is with this in mind that the Alliance makes its impassioned plea to the Prime Minister - who has repeatedly spoken of his support for social care reform - to try and ensure that the bill goes in to tomorrow's speech.
It is hard to argue against anything in the Alliance's letter. From what I've read and heard anecdotally, cutbacks to services have left many older people, and those with learning disabilities and mental health problems, with fewer services - if they've not had them cut completely in the past year. As a result, their lives are becoming much more difficult.
The Alliance is also right to say that all sides - politicians,charities, providers, community groups etc - need to come together to find a solution. The system is creaking and is in urgent need of reform.
I really hope that the Prime Minister and the Government will heed this letter and ensure a social care bill is included in this parliamentary session. But my fear is that the decision has already been made, that it won't be.
The rumours about a lack of progress on finding a solution to the social care have failed to go away and this, I suspect, is the major stumbling block to reform.
If this is the case, then many social care service users will remain living with, as the Alliance puts it; "the fear of what tomorrow might bring."