Care leaders have voiced their anger at the news that social care reform is likely to face further delay.
Lord Bethell, a health minister in the House of Lords, said he could not commit to a plan for social care reform before the end of 2020.
His admission comes despite a promise made by the Prime Minister in January that the government would bring forward a plan for reform this year. Boris Johnson said last year that a “clear plan” for reform was already in existence.
Reacting to the news Mike Padgham, chair of the Independent Care Group, said this is “yet another betrayal of millions of older and vulnerable people in this country”.
He added: “Before coronavirus we knew there were at least 1.5m people living in this country without the care they need. With coronavirus, heaven knows what that figure is now.
“It is now more than a year since Boris Johnson promised to end the social care crisis once and for all and the only thing we have seen is the situation getting worse.
“Under-funded and neglected by government after government, coronavirus exposed a social care system that was already in crisis and plunged it into further despair. Now we are told that there is no hope of even the publication of a plan this year. It simply isn’t good enough.
“We need to see, immediately, the Government’s winter plan for helping social care cope with a much-feared and predicted second wave of coronavirus and then, as a matter of urgency, a full, root and branch overhaul of the social care system.”
ADASS president, James Bullion, warned of a risk of “partial or complete breakdown” of social care services in the next few months.
Bullion added: “The prospect of reform proposals was the promise that kept us all going. The ability to deal with the pandemic and to face what is likely to be the most difficult winter any of us have ever faced, has been bolstered by the expectation of a better future and the type of care that we all want for ourselves and our families. People are giving a lot to keep services going.”
The ADASS president said the failure to deliver increased the need to for a fully funded plan for social care this winter to expand capacity and place adult social care on the same footing as the NHS.
He urged the government to prioritise testing “with the utmost urgency” to protect the most vulnerable from the virus.
Finally, ADASS call for a “multiple year” funding settlement giving older and disabled people, carers, staff and local authorities the certainty that they will continue to get the care and support they need.
ADASS has previously called for a “home first” strategy to social care reform.