Published on 25 Sep 2012

A tricky task for the new care minister

Norman Lamb, who is the new Minister for Care Services, has a difficult job. 

As the man put in charge of seeing through the reforms of long term care for the elderly and people with disabilities, he knows that the question on everyone’s lips is will the government find the £2bn that it will cost to implement the recommendations in the Dilnot Commission report?

And so it was today at a fringe meeting at the Lib Dem conference, hosted by the charities Independent Age and the Care and Support Alliance and the insurers, Partnership.

Mr Lamb is an astute politician so he would have been expecting it.  But also in the audience was Paul Burstow, who until the reshuffle was the minister with the same brief.

Added to this, Mr Burstow used his new-found freedom from office to give an interview on Friday saying that it was the Treasury blocking the funding.

Mr Lamb was unfazed, simply telling the fringe meeting that while he was too new in office to have been able to deal with this vexed question, he did believe that it was vital to create a mechanism over a short space of time to bring this funding issue to a conclusion but, he added, it had to be done with cross party consensus.

Mr Lamb also said that Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg had told him that this issue of social care was a top priority.

Strangely, even without giving an answer to that question, many at the meeting seemed to feel optimistic.

Certainly, those dealing with care of the elderly and disabled feel that finally this subject really is at the top of the political agenda and that things will begin to change.

Mr Lamb’s departing thought, though, was about changing names.  Social care, he said, doesn’t work as a description.. The public doesn’t know what it means.  So he is now seeking suggestions.  Answers on a postcard.

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4 reader comments

  1. Philip Edwards says:

    Victoria,

    “…it was the Treasury blocking the funding.”?

    Can you do some digging and find out WHO in the Treasury is blocking the funding?

    So far as I know these decisions are taken by human individuals and not by some ephemeric entity.

    So someone has to be held responsible. But WHO? And is he/she/they elected by us?

  2. Sarah Reed says:

    How about Care of People (after all, that’s what it should be about)

  3. Andrew Dundas says:

    There are two fundamental problems with this policy:
    1. Moral Hazard. If the cost of domiciliary care is paid for by Government, what’s to stop folk who don’t have a real need for the service pressing for it? And you can be sure quite a lot of people do exactly that.
    2. Previous ‘bad faith’. When a consensus was sought by the previous Labour Government, and a number of outline proposals offered for discussion, both Tories and Lib-Dems promptly described those proposals as a ‘Death Tax’ in a major advertising campaign aimed at the Grey Vote and their potential heirs.
    This is a difficult policy area because of the bad faith shown by some claimants, by some in the care professions and by policy makers & commentators.
    Because both the Tory Party and the Lib-Dems are known to be liars in respect to forward looking policy, it will remain impossible to have a sensible debate about domiciliary care of any sort because we all know it’s just an electoral gimmick.

  4. bob says:

    “Social care, he said, doesn’t work as a description”.
    As a ex foster carer who was sacked for reporting a social worker for assualting a child on 3 occasions, social care dosent work full stop!! what an idiot that man is.

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