The First Secretary of State and Minister for the Cabinet Office has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.
Today the Government is setting out plans to publish a Green Paper by summer recess 2018 presenting its proposals to reform care and support for older people. Reform of this vital sector has been a controversial issue for many years, but the realities of an ageing society mean that we must reach a sustainable settlement for the long-term.
To achieve reform where previous attempts have failed, we must look more broadly than social care services alone, and not focus narrowly on questions of means-testing, important though these are. Our vision for care must also incorporate the wider networks of support and services which help older people to live independently, including the crucial role of housing and the interaction with other public services. It must consider how care is provided at present and challenge the system to embrace new technology, innovation and workforce models which can deliver better quality and value.
To deliver a lasting solution, it is right that we take the time needed to debate these complex issues and listen to a range of perspectives to build consensus. For this reason, over the coming months, we will work with experts, stakeholders and people using care and support services to shape the long-term reform which is urgently needed. The Government has already established an Inter-Ministerial Group to oversee development of the Green Paper, and as part of this initial engagement we have asked a number of independent experts in this area to provide their views to the group. The Government will also engage closely with representatives from local government, the NHS, the voluntary sector and care providers, as well as with people who use care and support, to underpin development of the Green Paper. And when the Green Paper is published, it will then be subject to a full public consultation, providing a further opportunity for interested parties to give their views.
We recognise that many MPs and Peers are already engaging in the debate about the future of care and support, and we want to hear their views. I am therefore writing today to invite the Chairs of relevant All Party Parliamentary Groups to meet with me in the coming weeks to listen to their perspectives and priorities for the reform agenda.
Whilst the Green Paper will focus on care for older people, the Government recognises both the challenges faced by people of working age with care needs and the many common questions about the sustainability of the care system. Many of the discussions on the Green Paper reforms will impact on care and support for adults of all ages. However, to ensure that issues for working-age adults with care needs are considered in their own right, the Government will take forward a parallel programme of work, led jointly by the Department of Health and the Department for Communities and Local Government, which will focus on this group. This work will also be overseen by the Inter-Ministerial Group to ensure alignment with the Green Paper.
The Green Paper presents a unique opportunity to build consensus around reforms which can last. There is no escaping that building a sustainable care and support system will require choices about what that system should provide and how it is paid for. But getting this right promises a better system that everyone can have confidence in, where people understand their responsibilities, can prepare for the future, and know that the care they receive will be to a high standard and help them maintain their independence and wellbeing.