Disabled people’s organisations have reacted angrily after the government admitted that it will break its promise to publish its long-delayed adult social care green paper by the end of this year.
The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) confirmed this week that the green paper would now only be published “at the earliest opportunity” in 2019, as parliament continues to struggle to find a solution to the Brexit crisis.
It originally promised that the green paper would be published by the end of 2017, and then July this year, before delaying it to the autumn and then the end of 2018, and now to 2019.
DHSC declined to explain the reason for the delay but claimed that its green paper was “a departmental priority”.
Last year, the UN’s committee on the rights of persons with disabilities warned that the UK was “going backwards” on independent living, and called on the government to draw up a “comprehensive plan” to address the problem, and to take “urgent action” to ensure disabled people were provided with “adequate support to live independent lives”.
Tracey Lazard (pictured), chief executive of Inclusion London, said the repeated delays were “simply not good enough”.
She said: “The crisis in social care, and the misery it is causing to hundreds of thousands of disabled people, is now undeniable.
“Creating a social care system and funding that genuinely promotes and delivers independent living, is one of the great domestic policy and funding challenges the country faces – yet the government acts as though this is a peripheral issue that can be constantly kicked into the long grass.
“Disabled people and wider society are up for the debate with a growing consensus that significantly more funding, from progressive taxation, is needed for social care now and in the future.”
She said the government needed to “urgently show leadership and vision” on the issue.
Dr Victoria Armstrong, chief executive of Disability North, said the further delay was “disgraceful” and “clearly demonstrates where disabled people are in terms of priorities for national government”.
She said: “It leaves disabled people and disabled people’s organisations facing uncertainty and lacking in confidence that the current government understand or care about the lives of disabled people.
“Of course, this isn’t altogether surprising given recent criticisms by UN.
“Many of the disabled people we work with feel the impact of the crisis in health and social care, and that situation isn’t improving or set to improve if the government are not able to propose any solution to tackle the crisis.”
Sue Bott, deputy chief executive of Disability Rights UK, said it was no surprise that the green paper – which itself represented a “failure to get to grips with the urgent and growing crisis in social care” – had been “pushed back and pushed back”.
She was due yesterday (Wednesday) to attend a roundtable meeting with health and social care secretary Matt Hancock to discuss the possible content of the green paper in relation to working-age disabled people.
Bott said she would be “taking the opportunity to let him know how the social care crisis is continuing to deepen”, and she said she hoped he would tell those present that “he understands the implications of the current crisis on disabled people and that solving the funding of social care is now an urgent priority”.
But she added: “I’m not holding my breath, we shall see.”
Baroness [Jane] Campbell, a disabled crossbench peer who chairs the Independent Living Strategy Group, said she was “not surprised” by the latest green paper delay.
She said: “Sadly for disabled people’s desperate need for care and support to live with dignity and exercise their basic right to independent living, it’s what I have come to expect.”
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