Government ‘breaks green paper promise’


Disability organisations have accused the government of breaking a promise to publish the financial figures that justify large parts of its social care green paper.

Last week care services minister Phil Hope pledged that the detailed “financial modelling” for the green paper would be published within days, and in time for campaigners to respond to them as part of the public consultation, which ends on Friday (13 November).

But the Department of Health (DH) now says the financial modelling will not be published until next year.

The figures were expected to show the evidence the government was using to justify possibly scrapping attendance allowance and other disability benefits – which may still include disability living allowance for those over 65 – which it has suggested could help fund means-tested council care services.

The failure to produce the modelling also casts doubt on the government’s reasons for not including a green paper option of funding social care through general taxation.

Neil Coyle, director of policy for the disability poverty charity Disability Alliance, said: “This is not a genuine partnership consultation.

“The government have not shared the information which they have used as a basis for some quite sweeping statements.

“As it stands we don’t even have a rough idea of what the green paper was based on.

“If you [believe]a tax-funded system is the fairest and most affordable and simplest system, you need to explain how it can be afforded by working age people in 20 years.

“That’s quite a challenge when you don’t know what the government’s figures are.

“We are being asked to comment on how to fund a care service without being given an estimate of the costs we are looking at.”

The Care and Support Alliance – whose members include RADAR, Carers UK, Age Concern and Help the Aged – is now planning to seek the information through a Freedom of Information Act request.

An alliance spokeswoman said: “Ministers want us to accept the ‘mathematics’ underpinning the green paper but don’t seem to trust the figures sufficiently to publish them.”

A DH spokesman said: “We asked the LSE [London School of Economics] to do the modelling for the green paper several months ago, providing them [with]our best assumptions and thinking at the time.

“A lot has changed since then and we need to take account of updated information, for example from stakeholder bodies.

“We have asked LSE to do more work for us, taking account of latest developments.”

5 November 2009