A tricky task for the new care minister
Norman Lamb, who is the new Minister for Care Services, has a difficult job.
As the man put in charge of seeing through the reforms of long term care for the elderly and people with disabilities, he knows that the question on everyone’s lips is will the government find the £2bn that it will cost to implement the recommendations in the Dilnot Commission report?
And so it was today at a fringe meeting at the Lib Dem conference, hosted by the charities Independent Age and the Care and Support Alliance and the insurers, Partnership.
Mr Lamb is an astute politician so he would have been expecting it. But also in the audience was Paul Burstow, who until the reshuffle was the minister with the same brief.
Added to this, Mr Burstow used his new-found freedom from office to give an interview on Friday saying that it was the Treasury blocking the funding.
Mr Lamb was unfazed, simply telling the fringe meeting that while he was too new in office to have been able to deal with this vexed question, he did believe that it was vital to create a mechanism over a short space of time to bring this funding issue to a conclusion but, he added, it had to be done with cross party consensus.
Mr Lamb also said that Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg had told him that this issue of social care was a top priority.
Strangely, even without giving an answer to that question, many at the meeting seemed to feel optimistic.
Certainly, those dealing with care of the elderly and disabled feel that finally this subject really is at the top of the political agenda and that things will begin to change.
Mr Lamb’s departing thought, though, was about changing names. Social care, he said, doesn’t work as a description.. The public doesn’t know what it means. So he is now seeking suggestions. Answers on a postcard.
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