Sector calls for action from new Prime Minister

July 24, 2019

Sector representatives have responded to the announcement that Boris Johnson will be the new Prime Minister, urging him to make social care a political priority.

As Mr Johnson takes over leadership of the Conservative Party and waits to take office as the next UK Prime Minister this afternoon, the social care sector has begun to make calls on him to address the issues faced by the social care system.

Independent Care Group (ICG) Chair, Mike Padgham, said, 'In his campaign, Boris Johnson pledged that nobody should sell their home to pay for care and made adult social care a high priority - well now it is time for him to deliver.

'We say to him, be true to your word. Social care is as important as any other issue - alongside Brexit - and it is time to take action.

'Over the years too many politicians have promised to tackle social care and then failed - here is an opportunity for Boris Johnson to be different and show us that he is.'

The ICG says Government should take immediate action to tackle the crisis in social care and at the same time look at long-term solutions. Mike continues, 'The Green Paper has been delayed and delayed to the point where its moment has passed. We need urgent action now, even if the Government then publishes more long-term proposals further down the line.

'It is a bit like working on a house - the long-term plan might be to completely refurbish it, but if the roof is leaking now, you have to tackle that straight away.'

He said there was plenty of expertise on social care available in the independent sector and he called upon Mr Johnson to use that and visit social care on the front line.

'The independent sector is ready, willing and able to offer help and advice to the Government on how we can all work together to tackle the crisis in adult social care and are eager to meet with Mr Johnson and whoever becomes Secretary of Health and Social Care,' he added.

'I have invited Mr Johnson's predecessor, Theresa May and various ministers to visit social care providers but to no avail. Here is an opportunity for a new government to make a fresh start.'

Councillor David Williams, Chairman-elect of the County Councils Network and leader of Hertfordshire County Council has called on the new PM to resolve funding issues faced by local authorities. He said, 'The County Councils Network would like to welcome the incoming Prime Minister. It is heartening that someone with a background in local government is taking over at No 10. Working in partnership with Government, county authorities can help to solve many of the challenges that we collectively face, as well as grasping the opportunities we have as a nation.

'Whilst Brexit will clearly be the number one priority for the new government, we urge the new Prime Minster to make local government funding his immediate domestic priority. Local authorities face a funding black hole of £51.8bn over the next six years. After nine years of austerity where councils have done more than any other part of the public sector to restore the finances of this country, the elastic can be stretched no further.

'Plans and budgets are being prepared against a background of unprecedented uncertainty. Councils need urgent clarity on our funding levels for next year. We accept that the Spending Review may be delayed, but the financial plight faced by well-run councils cannot be ignored if we are to prevent further cutbacks to services. Therefore, local authorities need a significant emergency injection of funding and a longer-term funding settlement.

'At the same time, we ask for a cast-iron commitment to the Fair Funding Review. Whilst a one-year delay in implementing the review may be inevitable owing to the extenuating national circumstances, there is an imperative to finalise the proposals and address the funding inequities between rural and urban areas.

'More widely, we stand ready to work with ministers on a positive agenda as we head into the post-Brexit period. If supported by the right devolved powers and funding, particularly in areas such as strategic planning, infrastructure, broadband and skills, county authorities can deliver our shared objectives of strong economic and employment growth for UK plc, sustainable housing growth and improved social mobility for the next generation.'

Niall Dickson, Chief Executive of the NHS Confederation, has also called for action from Mr Johnson. He said, 'The new Prime Minister has promised to tackle the social care crisis in England – this is urgent and we look forward to engaging with him and his team to achieve that...

'On Brexit, we are anxious to make sure we achieve a deal which protects patients both in the UK and across Europe and, even if there is no comprehensive deal, we need guarantees from both sides that patients will not be put at risk and that there will be a transition period to make sure they are protected. Nothing less is acceptable.

'We are keen that the new Prime Minister supports the NHS Long Term Plan for England which sets the right direction of travel. But for it to work, this Government needs to complete the unfinished business of funding capital spending, training budgets, public health and social care.'

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