Having just survived a turbulent Health and Social Care Bill, and with the legal repercussions of the grueling Mid Staffs Inquiry delayed by the report being postponed until the autumn, another Health Bill was not likely. But everyone expected, nearly a year after the Dilnot Commission had reported, for there to be a Bill on the funding of social care. Yet this crucial but demanding obligation has been postponed and what we have been given is a Draft Care and Support Bill, a tidying up exercise of existing law, a potential anti-localism centralisation of eligibility criteria for social care (don’t misunderstand me, I’m all for national criteria that give clarity and assurance) and therefore we have by default a plan to embed the fear and uncertainty for both the poor without assets and the middle-classes with one main asset, their home.
The re-jigging of who gets to wear ermine is of miniscule concern to the public compared with the epic proportions of the people’s dilemma: what will happen when they can no longer look after themselves. Giving the new proposed quangos the benefit of the doubt, whilst this Bill could therefore, in part, improve health outcomes, having avoided the key question will mean that personal or private investment is not stimulated by a new clear funding framework, neither will the social care jobs market benefit despite the rising need and older people are left in the lurch. Lord Warner of Radio 4 wondered this morning if HM Treasury are behind the postponement because of the costs. Maybe, but quite honestly all it should take is to stop some of the pointless NHS expenditure. This really should not be staying in the ‘too difficult’ box.