No guarantee from Boris Johnson that social care reform will be in Queen’s Speech

Prime Minister Boris Johnson (right) reacts as he campaigns on behalf of Conservative Party candidat

Prime minister Boris Johnson (right) reacts as he campaigns on behalf of Conservative Party candidate Jill Mortimer in Hartlepool, in the north-east of England ahead of the 2021 Hartlepool by-election to be held on May 6 - Credit: PA

Boris Johnson has not said whether key social care proposals, as promised when he was elected, will be detailed in next week’s Queen’s Speech.

The prime minister said proposals for the long-term reform of the sector and its funding will be brought forward in the “next few months”.

Care groups, charities and politicians have been long calling for a plan, as promised by the prime minister in his first speech after being elected in July 2019.

During that speech, Johnson said he was “announcing now – on the steps of Downing Street – that we will fix the crisis in social care once and for all with a clear plan we have prepared”.

No such plan has yet been published.

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Last week, 26 signatories wrote an open letter to Johnson, urging him to fix the “desperate” social care situation with reforms comparable to the founding of the NHS.

He was told the sector now needs “its 1948 moment” to establish a “long-term and sustainable future” in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

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They called for Johnson to set out his reforms in the Queen’s Speech, due to be held on May 11.

Asked whether he would use the opportunity to put forward social care funding proposals, Johnson said on Wednesday: “Social care is a massive priority for this government.

“I think the pandemic has helped to expose, well, it’s shown, the amazing work that social care workers do and all the help they give to our society.

“It’s been absolutely fantastic and they’ve borne the brunt of the pandemic, so we invest hugely in social care as a government.

“We support local councils, who look after much of the cost of social care, massively.

“We put billions more into helping local government but we also have to think about the long-term issues, the long-term costs and how we should be funding it.

“We’re determined to bring forward new proposals and there will be something about it in the course of the next few months.”

Care England, a membership body for social care providers, said the sector “cannot afford to wait any longer”.

Chief executive Professor Martin Green said: “As the largest representative body for independent providers of adult social care, Care England wants to work with the government to ensure that reform is on the table now.

“We cannot afford to wait any longer, it is now or never.

“Last week Care England was a co-signatory to an open letter to the prime minister calling for reform and it is abundantly clear that social care needs its 1948 moment.”

Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey told the PA news agency: “The Conservatives promised to fix adult social care, they failed.

“Boris Johnson promised cross-party talks, he’s not delivered.

“I’ve written yet again to Boris Johnson to say the Liberal Democrats are happy to get around the table with other political parties because it’s so important.”

He pointed out that the Lib Dems had legislated for a cap on care costs during the coalition era.

“The Liberal Democrats actually had a plan we put into legislation which would have helped over a million people over the last few years,” he said.

“The Conservatives refused to implement it when they got into government by themselves.”

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