In 2017, the Prime Minister promised a consultation on ideas to improve the social care system in a Green Paper. That Green Paper is now significantly overdue.
Just over half of the adult social care budget in England is spent, not on older people, but on working age adults with some form of disability. This article will focus on them.
I am familiar with this policy area because I was the Shadow Minister for Disabled People between 2007 and 2010, and the Minister for Disabled People between 2014 and 2015.
In our 2017 General Election Manifesto, we set a goal to get one million more disabled people into employment over ten years. The Work and Pensions Secretary wants it to be more ambitious.
I have a suggestion for her - we should re-adopt our 2015 Manifesto commitment ‘to halve the disability employment gap’. The Social Market Foundation said that the 2015 commitment would see 200,000 to 500,000 more disabled people in work than our 2017 promise. I ought to disclose that I helped draft the original commitment!
Publishing the Social Care Green Paper is not the end. It is an opportunity for the Government to listen to feedback on its proposals from disabled people and expert organisations, and then legislate where necessary.
I chair the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Learning Disability, and recently chaired a joint meeting in Parliament with other relevant APPGs, disabled people and campaigners to talk about what we wanted in the Green Paper.
One clear theme that emerged was better joined up working between the social care, health, and welfare systems. There is a lot of support available already, but it does not always work well as a package. For example, where someone acquires a disability, things go wrong if the social care, home adaptations, and financial help, do not get going quickly enough.
In addition to reverting to our 2015 Manifesto commitment, I would like to see us invest in the social care system to make it more effective and sustainable. To that end, the sooner the Green Paper is published, the sooner we make real improvement.