Jeremy Hunt and Michael Gove: two white papers and 10 days later, no real plan

This is not even a serious attempt to address the social care crisis.

Prime Minister Theresa May and her team have adopted two key changes made in Michael Gove’s social care white paper, published last summer. First, the adoption of the idea of “enhanced budgets” to enable care homes to raise private income from within. Second, the conversion of home care services (life sustaining care) into services to support living at home.

Converting this level of funding into funds that can be redeployed by care homes is already recognised as an unstable solution – the most obvious danger of which is that care homes will siphon off the extra funds with no investment in services, and without any contribution of the local authority.

The intention to introduce this measure, to enable care homes to raise more money from private funding, is no different from that proposed in Mr Gove’s plan. Indeed, it’s very similar. The combined proposal to enable more money to be re-invested in care homes is also similar to that also pushed by the Department of Health. In effect, it’s a bit of a marriage of convenience – so Mr Gove gets free marketing on his ideas for raising £100m to help care homes with additional staff funding, and so, so forth.

The issue isn’t that what was proposed in the white paper won’t work. It won’t. It might work initially, but social care funding is in danger of being mortgaged to the bust.

In essence, the proposal’s only raison d’etre is to help keep the existing system afloat rather than to guarantee an end to current problems. You can call that a rearrangement of the deckchairs, as Mr Gove did in his blog. But a rearrangement won’t solve the problem.

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