Social care workforce reforms backed by former ministers as Government stalls over plans to fix crisis

Six former health and social care ministers have backed proposals to reform the social care workforce in the absence of long-awaited Government plans.

The Future Social Care Coalition (FSCC) has put forward a social care people plan framework that is backed by 24 individuals and organisations including employers, trade unions and care alliances. Photo: Adobe

The Future Social Care Coalition (FSCC) has put forward a social care people plan framework that is backed by 24 individuals and organisations including employers, trade unions and care alliances.

It has cross-party support from six former ministers, including former Labour Health Secretary Andy Burnham, the Liberal Democrats’ former Community and Social Care Minister Sir Norman Lamb, and Alistair Burt, former Community and Social Care Minister for the Conservatives.

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The framework is published ahead of proposals for wider reform of the sector from the Government, which were promised almost two years ago by Boris Johnson upon his election to Downing Street.

Signatories are calling for the Government to take forward a people plan for social care to mirror the NHS people plan, taking into account their 12 recommendations.

These include that the plan should recommend that care and support worker pay is increased to the real living wage level and that the Government should consult on a compulsory national register of workers.

It should also include a commitment to a healthy and safe national workforce guaranteed through a binding charter of good practice, they said.

And the plan should detail how the Government will help create “national pride” in the sector, for example through creating a Royal College for Social Care and a care and support workers day, they added.

It follows frustration after a key meeting on the future of social care between the Prime Minister, Chancellor Rishi Sunak and Health Secretary Matt Hancock was reportedly postponed.

The Government has said it is committed to reform, and proposals will be set out before the end of the year.

Phil Hope, former Minister for Care Services and FSCC co-chair said: “Covid has highlighted many of the long-term problems that continue to blight social care, particularly the need for an immediate, substantial and sustained injection of funding, alongside long-overdue reform of the sector.

“Many people will need social care at some point in their lives, which is why we need to act now to overhaul how the sector, and its workforce, is treated.

“That is why it is so bitterly disappointing to hear that plans for a high-level Government meeting to progress plans for reform have been deferred. Now is the time to get social care done.”

It comes as Boris Johnson was warned the “time for excuses is over” as Labour pressed him to urgently bring forward his social care reform plans.

Health Minister Helen Whately outlined her “hugely ambitious” desires for the care system, which include giving people “choices” about how they live their lives.

She again failed to give a specific timetable and only reiterated proposals will be brought forward “later this year”.

For Labour, shadow Health Minister Liz Kendall told the Commons: “It is 100 weeks since the Prime Minister promised to ‘fix the crisis in social care’ with a plan he had already prepared to give people ‘the dignity and security they deserve’.”

She pressed for details on when the Government’s plan will emerge, adding: “The time for excuses is over. When will the Government deliver?”