Suffolk/Essex: Charities question financial commitment of Government White Paper on adult social care

THERE is a “disappointing” lack of financial commitment in the Government’s White Paper on adult social care, charity bosses have said.

The Department of Health published its “Caring for our future: reforming care and support” White Paper yesterday.

The report, unveiled by Health Secretary Andrew Lansley, sets out the vision for a new system that he says will focus on people’s wellbeing and help them stay independent for as long as possible and introduce greater national consistency in access to care and support.

But charities say while they welcome the Government’s decision to back a cap on care costs – without yet specifying a limit – it has failed to commit financially to the aim.

St Nicholas Hospice Care chief executive Barbara Gale said that without this commitment, and without details of funding for the changes, the paper lacked weight.

She said: “There is no substance to the White Paper without those fundamental details of what the cap will be and when it is likely to be introduced. The lack of commitment to funding adequate social care for people in need is extremely disappointing.”

Daphne Savage, chief executive of the Suffolk branch of Age UK, added: “It’s not gone quite as far as we would like.

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“While we welcome that there seems to be some clear plans to reform the care system, they haven’t actually set out how the changes will be funded.”

Central Suffolk and North Ipswich MP Dr Dan Poulter welcomed these proposals, which he said showed the Government was “getting to grips” with reforming the system of social care so that frail elderly and disabled people were treated with the respect and dignity they deserve.

He said the plans would spell an end to the injustice of people having to sell their homes to pay for their care. He said: “It is not right that frail elderly people are forced to suffer the indignity of having to sell their own home to pay for the costs of receiving care, and I am pleased this Government has committed to ensuring no-one will be forced to sell their own home to pay for their care in future.

“As a hospital doctor and MP, I know that the single biggest challenge facing our health service, both in Suffolk and in the UK, is how to meet the human and financial cost of better looking after our growing ageing population.”

Essex County Council’s cabinet member for adult social care, John Aldridge, said the White Paper signalled a “potentially major change” in the way care and support would be provided in the future.

He said: “Finding a long-term solution to paying for social care is absolutely crucial given the rising demand for our care services.”

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