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Social care green paper

In the Spring Budget 2017, the government committed to setting out 'its thinking on the options for the future financing of Social Care in a Green Paper later this year'. Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond also announced an additional £2bn over the following 3 years for councils to spend on adult social care services.

The Spring Budget stated the proposed green paper would ‘put the system on a more secure and sustainable long term footing' and was due to be published in Summer 2017.

Stakeholders including the Communities and Local Government Select Committee welcomed the announcement, which followed several reform attempts by successive governments.

The numerous government-commissioned reviews of social care funding included 2011’s Dilnot Report, which had proposed a cap on lifetime costs of care. A cap set at £72,000 had been due to come into effect in 2016 – legislated for in the Care Act 2014 – but the government later delayed its introduction until 2020 due to local government funding pressures.

Continual delays to the social care green paper

There were to be numerous delays to the publication of the social care green paper following this original announcement.

The first delay was in July 2017. Following significant debate over the Conservative Party’s pledges on social care funding during the 2017 general election campaign, the party changed the green paper publication date to the end of 2017.

In November 2017, when rescheduling the publication of the green paper for a third time (to July 2018), the government clarified that the paper would only ‘focus on care for older people’ with the requirements of working age adults needing care considered in a ‘parallel programme of work’.

Following this:

  • in January 2018, the responsibility for the green paper transferred to the Department of Health and Social Care, at the same time as the Department of Health was renamed
  • in March 2018, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care Jeremy Hunt outlined seven principles that would guide the green paper
  • in June 2018, Hunt delayed the publication to the autumn of 2018
  • in October 2018, Matt Hancock, the new Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, delayed publication to ‘before the end of the year’ and reverted the scope of the green paper to cover all adults
  • in December 2018, the government stated that publication would occur ‘at the earliest opportunity’, effectively amounting to an indefinite delay to publishing a green paper on social care funding reform.

Hammond P.
Spring Budget 2017: Philip Hammond's speech [webpage].
UK government; 2017.

HM Treasury.
Spring Budget 2017.
HM Treasury; 2017.

Department for Communities and Local Government.
Government Response to the Communities and Local Government Select Committee Report: Adult Social Care.
Department for Communities and Local Government; 2017.

Jarrett T.
Social care: Government reviews and policy proposals for paying for care since 1997 (England).
House of Commons Library; 2017.