Social care reform plan will be "long term," Matt Hancock tells LBC

11 May 2021, 08:45 | Updated: 11 May 2021, 08:48

Health Secretary pushed on "oven-ready" social care reforms

By Asher McShane

Health Secretary Matt Hancock has said the Government is committed to a "long term" plan for reforming adult social care in England.

However Mr Hancock admitted they haven't been able to focus on the issue because of the pandemic.

The topic is not expected to feature in today's Queen's Speech, which sets out the legislative agenda for the year ahead.

Nick Ferrari challenged Mr Hancock that the plans were supposed to have been "oven ready" in 2019. "We are now in the middle of 2021," Nick said.

"We are going to have a long-term plan to reform social care, Mr Hancock replied.

"We will be setting out that plan but we haven't been able to focus on it as much as we would have liked."

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Mr Hancock also said he is confident that people will exercise personal responsibility, when England's Covid restrictions are further relaxed on Monday May 17.

People will be allowed to hug friends and family they don't live with, and socialise indoors in groups of up to six.

A care group has urged Boris Johnson to make good on his promise of social care reform.

The National Care Forum has published a paper detailing what an "ambitious" plan for reform must include, such as investment in adult social care and improvements to pay and conditions for care workers.

It said the pandemic highlighted the "very real consequences of not thinking social care first", with the focus on protecting the NHS during the first wave leading to delayed access to Covid-19 testing, PPE (personal protective equipment) and support across the care sector.

There has still been no confirmation on whether the Prime Minister's key social care reforms, as promised when he was elected in 2019, will be detailed in the Queen's Speech on May 11 when the monarch sets out the Government's legislative agenda.

Vic Rayner, chief executive of the National Care Forum, said: "Ambitious social care reform can make a transformational change for millions of people, with the profound effect of principled change supporting positive change that will be felt in all communities across the country.

"It will require bold commitment and investment from the Government for social care reform fit for now and in the future.

"We need to move forward from the place of rhetoric to action - specific action that will propel the sector from the position of recovery to sustainability and growth.

"Now is the time for long-term ambition not yet another quick fix."

It comes after Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove said a social care reform plan will be "heading for the statute books" by the end of the year.

When asked whether social care reform would form part of this week's Queen's Speech, he told Times Radio: "We're working to make sure that we have an effective social care plan at the moment.

"That work is going on.

"So, by the end of the year you will have a specific social care plan that is heading for the statute books at the very least.

"We want to make sure that we can get cross-party support for it. That is critical."