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'Political mayhem' prompts social care green paper concern

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The Local Government Association will urgently seek assurances from the government that there will be no further delay to the social care green paper following the appointment of a new health and social care secretary.

Matt Hancock has replaced Jeremy Hunt, who was appointed foreign secretary following the resignation of Boris Johnson yesterday, raising concerns the green paper, which was initially due last summer before it was revised to this summer, could be delayed again beyond the autumn.

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson today said there were no planned changes to the timetable for publication of the green paper “at this stage”.

The chair of the LGA’s community wellbeing board Izzi Seccombe (Con) told LGC the potential implications of the appointment of Mr Hancock will be discussed this morning.

She said: “We are delayed now anyway until the spending review. That is nor great for us, especially as we are considering how we are going to be funded post 2020, so we need reassurance on all of that.”

The LGA will publish its own green paper on the future of social care by the end of this month, with a consultation due to take place in August and September.

Writing for the website Conservative Home in 2012, Mr Hancock said social care had been “a pressing, long term, problem” which “has failed to ensure vulnerable people live out their years with dignity”.

He mooted a form of personal insurance to cover costs of care and said there had been a “failure in the insurance market” to provide products.

Mr Hancock added: “Now the government must come forward with a proposal that is fair, and affordable, on which political consensus can be built.

“Solving the injustice of social care can be a goal we can all be proud of.”

County Councils Network spokesman for health and social care David Williams said Mr Hancock must ensure the NHS and social care are treated as “two-sides of the same coin”, as neglecting one while investing in the other “would be fiscally irresponsible and only serve to increase pressure on the wider health service”.

He added: “Counties face acute demand-led and financial pressures in delivering care services, being home to the largest and fastest growing elderly populations – the status quo is no longer an option.

“Local authorities will be vital in any successful reform of the system, having delivered high-performing social care services during austerity, underpinned by democratic accountability and strong links to other service areas, such as housing. It is important that social care stays a local service.”

Richard Humphries, senior fellow at the King’s Fund, tweeted yesterday that “political mayhem is a further reason to dial down expectations of the thrice-delayed #socialcare green paper”.

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