After the General Election, the Government pledged to address some of the issues facing social care and set out their plan for doing so in a green paper. Last week in Parliament, we launched seven key tests for that green paper. Our challenge for the Government is not how it can roll out more poor care to a growing number of people, but how it can guarantee the support that older people want and deserve, wherever they live.

Last week, in her first public engagement in the role, the newly-appointed Minister of State for Care, Caroline Dinenage MP, joined Independent Age’s staff, supporters, volunteers and some of the older people we support at our event in Parliament to talk about the future of care. She praised our work with older people across the country and set out her own vision for what care should look like. ‘Getting social care right is about giving power back to people’, the Minister told us.

We also heard from Katherine, who shared her experience of finding a care home for her mother, highlighting the challenges she faced trying to get the best support for her Mum. You can find out more about Katherine’s story in this film.

Our Chair, Jo Cleary, closed the event with a call to action for the Government: ‘We wanted this event to be a call for action to everyone involved in the Government’s green paper … We know that without decisive action and courageous leadership the situation will only continue to deteriorate. We will support you, but we will also challenge you.’

You can catch up with all of the speeches from the event here.

We want a social care system that allows individuals to thrive rather than just survive. This means partnering with social care providers, charities and people who have experience of care. The green paper should set out an ambitious plan of action with realistic targets and a clear timeframe for implementation. The reforms should ensure that no care need is left unmet, and it needs to be really clear what the responsibility of the state is and what is down to the individual.

In our exchanges with parliamentarians and to the Minister, we set out our seven tests for the green paper if it is to deliver real change:

  1. Set out an ambition for a social care system that is fairer, more transparent and more sustainable than our current system.
  2. Be based on a thorough understanding of people’s experiences of using and delivering the services today.
  3. Go beyond narrow questions about social care funding and finance and tackle problems related to housing, regional variation and the social care market.
  4. Demonstrate a clear aspiration to end poor quality and to create real choice for all users.
  5. Identify the key questions to address, commit to the widest possible consultation and set out a clear plan for action.
  6. Create an urgent plan for action, with reforms underway by the end of this parliament and a clear vision for future sustainability.
  7. Be politically feasible but also command the support of all parties so whatever reforms are proposed they have a strong prospect of lasting for more than a single parliament.

The green paper is an important opportunity not to be wasted but it must not distract from the immediate funding crisis. The funding gap in adult social care currently stands at £1.3 billion and is set to reach £2.7 billion by 2020/21. The Government must act now if older people are to live with dignity, choice and control at present and in future.

That is why our Policy & Campaigns team will be focusing our energy on shaping the Government’s plans. It is vital that together we can overcome the obstacles that have prevented successive governments from taking real action on social care, and ensure that the green paper delivers the bold, radical reform needed to fix the care system.