As the debate continues over the announcement in yesterday’s Queen’s Speech of plans for free personal care at home for those in most need, what it does highlight is a lack of political consensus over the future of social care.
Leaving aside the debates on whether the announcement was just electioneering or if the government’s got its sums right with the £670 million per year cost, the hammering it got from the other main political parties’ shows that all have different ideas about the future of social care.
Labour has pinned its hopes on a National Care Service, which yesterday’s announcement is a trailer for and has been covered in the recent green paper.
Meanwhile, the Conservatives have mostly criticised Labour’s plans, while their own proposals have been relatively thin on the ground. The main one has been the idea of the insurance scheme, where people would pay £8,000 and then get free personal care as and when they need it.
As for the Liberal Democrats, they have advocated greater integration of health and social care, and that care be provided on the basis of need rather than ability to pay, but nothing much else recently.
It is widely accepted that social care needs overhauling but surely on something as big as this, and that affects so many people, the parties should be working together on it.
After all, service users and social care professionals surely want to know that policies will be consistent and not changed every time a new government is elected – that can be as harmful as doing nothing.
Finding a way forward is difficult – the debates over the green paper demonstrate this – but this should surely rise above the usual politicking for the good of the millions of service users and carers out there. It should, but I doubt it will.