Firstly, an apology for not updating the blog recently. This has been down to sheer volume of work – several projects all came in at once that required all my attention and didn’t allow me the time to sit and write a blog.
But these projects have been completed and normal service should now be resumed.
However, despite my little hiatus, the main debates in social care do not seemed to have moved on much. For instance, everyone is still speculating what will be in the adult social care funding white paper, nobody thinks that the government has got its sums right on the free personal care at home policy and councils are still causing controversy over cutbacks they are having to make to budgets. Plus ca change.
Taking one of those themes – free personal care – there was probably a collective sigh of relief among councils across England earlier this week when news came out that the House of Lords had voted to delay the measure until an independent review is carried out, which means that it is now unlikely to be implemented before the general election.
Many council chiefs have voiced their concerns over the costing of it (although not all, it has to be noted), with the phase ‘back of a fag packet’ used more than once.
While the bill is not yet dead – the government could still try to push it through – a delay in its implementation at least makes sense.
As Lord Best, a crossbench peer and president of the Local Government Association, said, there are worries that arrangements to help the 400,000 people it is expected to cover might not be up and running in the next few months – especially as there are local and national elections coming, with possible changes of leadership and policies – and that local authority budgets have already been set for 2010-11, so finding the funds is tough.
Pushing this bill through now could end up with services being rushed in, and just think of all the potential problems with that – getting the administration right, putting the care services in place, finding the funds – and that’s just for starters. The potential for it all going wrong is arguably high, which could end up harming service users, carers and social care staff.
If, after the election, it is still thought that free personal care at home is a viable proposition, then ministers should look at a timetable for implementation. Doing it now, with some many other things going on, is simply asking for trouble.