Social care's future: Is now the time MPs are really listensing to us?

Blog post 3 July 2017

I know the Queen’s speech was a little while ago, but it struck me this weekend nothing much was said on the future of social care funding.

I assume, therefore, that if there’s little to say, there’s no real proposal in the offing and turned to Google in the hope of discovering more information.

The speech was spectacularly non-committal regarding the care sector. My ministers will work to improve social care and bring forward proposals for consultation” was the sum total of the subject that clearly played a major part in seeing Mrs May ‘s disastrous election result.

But perhaps, with a hung parliament and lessons learnt, politicians will now have to listen to those who run and use the care services.

Emeritus professor of social policy at Brunel University London, Peter Beresford, noted that never again will sensible politicians “treat social care in such a cavalier fashion as May’s election team did.”

Does this mean then, there’s hope for us? Perhaps.

Beresford controversially challenged social care policy in his book All Our Welfare, drawing on theories that ‘user knowledge’ could remap the current model.

Greater service user involvement has been one of the pillars of modernizing care, both in residential and community settings. But In my work with West Midlands Care Association and the Care Alliance on behalf of members I seek to influence change. Indeed, we have spent many hour building relationships with ministers and backbenchers MPs in the hope of being heard.

It appears now, doesn’t it, that taking a high-minded stance on the future of social care can be costly for any government. What was it with the ‘dementia tax’ U-turn and subsequent disastrous polls outcome, I feel sure all politicians will so much more keen to hear service users’ proposals for the future.

The Institute for Fiscal Studies observed that the May plan made “no attempt to deal with the fundamental challenge of social care funding”.

Finding the way ahead doesn’t promise to be easy, but like no time before I believe there will be political appetite for ideas.

Social care policy is a massive voting issue.

If the DUP deal with the Conservatives collapses, the Prime Minister would have little choice but to propose an early election.

Smart money for a win will be on the party that embraces the care industry ‘think tank’ providers and those to whom the care is given.