After the General Election, the Queen's Speech set out the government’s agenda for the new Parliament, and this contained a re-commitment to a consultation on social care reform. So, what needs to happen next?
The government's new consultation on social care follows its previous promise of a green paper and the widespread public outrage during the General Election campaign. The controversy around the Conservative Party's manifesto commitments, which many agreed would have made a broken system even worse for people with dementia, led to social care reform becoming one of the key election issues of 2017.
The Queen’s Speech has shown that the Conservative government has reconsidered the controversial proposals they put forward during the General Election campaign, but this does not end the unfair Dementia Tax.
Fixing the broken system
The system has long been deteriorating to the point of absolute crisis. With people having to shoulder a large responsibility for paying for their own care, the public became incensed at the thought of more people with dementia having to sell their homes and use all their life savings for social care.
The Dementia Tax will continue to exist as long as people with dementia have to spend hundreds of thousands on their care and face selling everything they have worked hard for, while others receive the majority of their care free at the point of use. Only through discussions with the third sector and people affected by dementia will the government be able to end the tax and create a fair, future-proof social care system that works for all.
No policy commitment
We welcome the government’s latest commitment to consulting with people about the creation of a new system, and will ensure that emphasis is placed on speaking with people affected by dementia, as they form the majority of people using the social care system.
While it is positive the government has acknowledged that social care reform can no longer be swept under the carpet—this is now irrefutable in light of the uproar during the General Election campaign—the Queen’s speech made no specific policy commitment to solving the immediate crisis. This is deeply concerning to us, as we have seen consultation after consultation over the last decade be followed by little action and reform.
Next steps for social care reform
With many high profile policy issues, such as Brexit, at the fore of the government’s minds, there is a risk social care reform could be discarded or delayed yet again. After twenty years of inaction and the controversy in the election—which saw this lesser known area of policy brought to the much wider public attention for the first time—we must seize our opportunity and hold the government to account.
Consultation must lead to the system overhaul that people with dementia so desperately need now and in the future. This matters to all of us, whether young or old, or affected directly by dementia right now. We will all be at some point affected by the devastating and catastrophic costs associated with dementia care in the current system.
We invite you to join over 61,000 of us so far in calling on the government to commit to ending the unfair Dementia Tax once and for all. Our role together over the coming months, until the consultation is launched, should and must continue to be pressuring politicians to ensure we see real change happen. We must demand more than previous proposals or sticking plasters on the current system. People with dementia, and other conditions, deserve radical reform that will ensure their wellbeing and better their care for years to come. Together, we can ensure that social care isn’t kicked into the long-grass again.