It is now a day since the White Paper came out, and the response from the media, social care organisations and rival political parties has been quick and, in the main, fairly critical.
The White Paper was given short shrift by most of the mainstream media. While its aims of creating a National Care Service were seen as laudable, many focused on the delays to making changes, how it would be paid for – and by whom – and the lingering “Death Tax”.
Those that gave the White Paper the most enthusiastic welcome tended to be the organisations that are government-backed. To paraphrase Mandy Rice-Davies, well, they would, wouldn’t they?
Charities and third sector organisations seem to have generally given the White Paper a good welcome, but again question where the money will come from for it.
Meanwhile, think tank the King’s Fund – an advocate of the partnership approach before the paper came out – welcomed the ‘ambitious’ plan, but questioned where the money to do it would come from, calling for detailed proposals urgently.
I reckon the King’s Fund was spot-on.
Now I’ve had time to reflect, it seems clearer that the White Paper has been geared to the election – it is big on ideas, but short on detail. Style over substance, if you will.
I really like the idea of the National Care Service – its aims are laudable and it is something to be aspired to. In an ideal world it would be here already.
But – and it’s a big but – I cannot work out how it would be paid for, without having to raise taxes, impose compulsory levies on the public or take money from other budgets. Nether, I suspect, judging by the content of the paper, do the government.
Also, given that the original aim of its preceding green paper was to address the funding of adult social care – with the hope that it would get rid of the current means-testing system – it has singularly failed to do it.
Indeed, the whole question of funding was fudged, with a call for another commission to be set up to investigate the best ways. Evidently the government didn’t want to be associated with any new taxes before the election, so has kicked it into the next parliament.
As a result, the system will creak on, as it has done for years, hated by many. A chance for genuine – and needed – reform of the funding system has been lost, sacrificed at the altar of electioneering.
For me, that clouds all the good ideas contained in the White Paper.