The social care system risks complete breakdown experts have warned as it emerged that the long-awaited White Paper has been delayed again until next year.
Health minister Lord Bethell told the House of Lords yesterday: 'I cannot commit to a social care plan before the end of the year.
'This is something that will require a huge amount of political collaboration and I suspect it will take longer than the next few months.'
Association of Directors of Adult Social Services president James Bullion warned the underfunded and strained service was being stretched further by coronavirus. ‘There is a risk of partial or complete breakdown in the next few months, despite the exceptional work done by paid and unpaid carers,’ he said.
‘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.’
He called for a fully funded plan for social care, for priority COVID testing and for a multi-year funding settlement, adding: ‘We cannot go on as we are.’
It was announced today that care providers will be given an extra £546m to bolster infection control throughout winter.
The infection control fund, which was launched in May, has now been extended until March, allowing providers to pay staff full wages while they are self-isolating and enabling workers to work in only one care home.
It brings the total funding for infection control measures in care homes to more than £1.1bn.
Care minister Helen Whately said: ‘I am committed to ensuring the social care system has everything it needs for the winter months ahead.’