Will Theresa May's Budget deliver long-overdue help for social care?

How much funding will Theresa May channel towards social care? Credit: PA

The current crisis in social care is a disgrace to all the politicians who saw it coming and failed to act.

I have watched successive Governments over two decades order two commissions, three consultations, five green and white papers and dozens of reviews - and still we have paralysis.

I have asked dozens of cabinet ministers what they will do to sort it - and then seen them draw back and fail to sort it.

The lack of political courage and leadership to deal with this meaningfully has been the hallmark of every Government since I started covering the issue 20 years ago.

Some have come close and then chickened. If only a “review” could solve a problem.

Arguably, as Richard Humphries of the Kings Fund observed, no other advanced nation has failed so spectacularly to grasp the positive challenge of longer living.

The result is what we have today - chronic misery for millions of people who deserve better.

But I don’t just blame the politicians.

The issue of social care has plagued successive governments Credit: PA

Clearly they don’t see solving this problem as a priority because we don’t care enough about it for it to be a vote winner.

Maybe no one wants to think about getting old, but all too often we look at this issue through the eyes of the generation below. Those whose inheritance is at risk, those whose day is curtailed by care responsibilities, those whose lives are inconvenienced.

Press releases about the emotional and financial “cost of care” to those forced to give it flood my desk.

But I’m not drowning in cries of “shame!” because millions of men and women are miserable and ill as the system breaks down.

And why do we regard this issue as somehow seasonal? We allow it to dominate the headlines only in winter when the elderly take up beds in our hospitals and deny access to the young.

Even the term “bed blocker” (which ITV News won’t use) betrays a contempt for the elderly that could only be felt by someone enjoying the arrogance of youth.

Councils have had to hike tax to cover gaps in social care Credit: PA

Wednesday's Budget will see an injection of cash for social care. Call me cynical if I don’t applaud.

It will also see the announcement of a “review” to look at ways to solve the problem.

Call me cynical again but I’ve seen that before too - plenty of times.

Will Theresa May dare to do what no one else has dared to do before her and take some difficult decisions – and probably make us all pay more for social care we can be proud of?

Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond will deliver the Budget Credit: PA

She said she would pledge to find a long term solution when challenged by Jeremy Corbyn in the Commons just before Christmas.

“You cannot look at this question as simply being about money in the short term," she said.

"If we’re going to give people the reassurance they need in the long term, it’s about finding a way forward that will give a sustainable solution for the future,” she said.

But will she deliver ?

That’s the only question worth asking tomorrow about social care - and for the next few months - or this government will simply add its name to the list of those who came before and failed.

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