‘Now or never’ for social care reform – The Yorkshire Post says

THERE are early signs that 2021 can be a year of renewal. Brexit, to paraphrase Boris Johnson, is nearly done – the test now is its implementation this week – while Covid vaccines will begin to offer respite from the pandemic.

Social care is the next totemic issue to confront the Government.

Yet, while the Government’s primary pre-occupation will be rebuilding the economy and fabric of society, the PM must now focus on the two defining issues left behind in 2020 – his still undefined ‘levelling up’ mission and long promised reform of social care.

And, in some respects, both are inter-linked because economic renewal – and the spreading of opportunity – is essential if a sustainable future funding model for adult social care is to be devised.

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The PM accepts this. This issue was a cornerstone of his successful Tory leadership campaign; featured in his first speech as Prime Minister on the steps of 10 Downing Street when Mr Johnson cited a hitherto undisclosed plan and again in his party’s election manifesto just last December.

Jeremy Hunt is a former Health and Social Care Secretary.

Yet, while Mr Johnson deserves some leeway due to the past year’s events, further delay and dither on his part will only make the issue harder to resolve.

And while this is, in part, due to the negligence of previous governments. Jeremy Hunt, himself a former Health Secretary guilty of neglecting the reform question, is right when he says today that Mr Johnson has a “now or never” opportunity to put in place a long-term plan.

This means appointing a dedicated Cabinet minister – it’s too much to expect the exhausted Matt Hancock to take on this burden in addition to suppressing Covid – to begin to build the that will be required to make headway on the next totemic issue to confront Britain.

However, as the Covid crisis has shown, care homes are now integral to the lives of so many families. They also define Britain, and its values, as a nation.

Boris Johnson has been urged to prioritise social care in 2021.

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