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MPs hold breath for cross-party social care talks

Reported in The Spectator (4 September): Theresa May created many problems for herself in this year’s snap election. Some are rather difficult to ignore, like fewer MPs and no Conservative majority. Others are very tempting and advantageous to ignore, like social care. The botched manifesto proposal on the long-term funding of social care has made reform even less attractive to politicians who were already minded to set up as many independent reviews and commissions as possible in order to avoid telling the public that this is going to cost a lot of money to fix.

Meanwhile the sector is even more on its knees than it was before. Crises don’t get better just because politicians ignore them. A poll of 101 MPs published last week by charity Independent Age found that nine in 10 don’t think the current system is fit for purpose.

The government does still plan to publish a green paper on long-term funding of social care, but given governments have been publishing green papers on this matter for rather a long time, this doesn’t mean that even a cogent proposal on funding will then have much prospect of being implemented any time soon. Sarah Wollaston is the chair of the Health Select Committee, and insists that ‘we now need to just get on with it.

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