Boris Johnson faces angry calls to urgently deliver on his promise to “fix” the social care crisis “once and for all” after it emerged he plans another delay.
The Prime Minister is expected to leave out much-needed funding proposals from next week’s Queen Speech – leaving thousands of elderly people in limbo.
Care home groups and staffing unions warned that it was “now or never” for the Government to finally get to grips with the crisis.
It is almost two years since Mr Johnson stood outside Downing Street and insisted he had a “clear plan” to give people dignity and security in old age.
Yet despite frequent promises since then his ministers have failed to provide any detail of his proposal to prop up the crippled sector.
Mr Johnson told MPs himself in March that it was “highly likely” the reforms would be in the Queen’s Speech, which sets out the Government’s legislative agenda.
But Government insiders have suggested that while it would be mentioned as an ambition, no detail will be set out on May 11.
The Mirror’s ‘Fair Care for All’ campaign demands that the elderly are afforded proper care and not abandoned.
Labour’s deputy leader Angela Rayner said: “Almost two years after promising a plan that he had already prepared, Boris Johnson has failed on social care.
“He has failed social care residents, staff, and millions of families.
“Just as he did over the last year by failing to provide PPE and protect residents from patients carrying Covid into care homes.
“The state of our social care sector under this Conservative government is a national disgrace, and we cannot wait any longer for this promised plan.”
Mr Johnson is understood to be interested in a plan from Sir Andrew Dilnot to cap costs for individuals at £45,000 with the state covering the rest.
But the Treasury and No 10 are understood to be stuck in talks over the cost with suggestions a funding package could require either dramatic cuts or tax rises up to £5bn a year.
One Whitehall source said: “They’re still going through all the options. It’s too early to make a decision.”
The PM’s official spokesman said: “We’re very much committed to finding a long-term solution to social care.”
Asked repeatedly if the Government would legislate this year, he said: “We stand by the commitments we’ve made on delivering a long term solution for social care.”
The social care system has been crumbling for more than a decade with the Covid pandemic laying bare how close it is to collapse.
Around 1.5m elderly people do not get the help they need.
Many are forced to depend on under-paid and over-stretched carers working for cash-strapped firms as councils make cuts.
David Cameron commissioned Sir Andrew Dilnot to draw up his plan but then killed it off after he ditched the Lib Dems after the 2015 election.
Prof Martin Green of Care England, which represents independent providers, said: “We want to work with the Government to ensure that reform is on the table now.
“We cannot afford to wait any longer, it is now or never.
“Last week Care England was a co-signatory to an open letter to the Prime Minister calling for reform and it is abundantly clear that social care needs its 1948 moment”.
Christina McAnea of Unison, which represents thousands of carers, said: “Transforming social care won’t be cheap.
“But it’s an essential service in real crisis and millions of vulnerable people can’t wait any longer.
“A well-funded new national care service could be the one good thing to emerge from this terrible pandemic.
“The Prime Minister should be bold, find the money for reform and create a lasting legacy for future generations.”
Rehana Azam of the GMB union added: “Generation after generation we have been given empty promises by successive governments to fix social care.
“Once again, this Government seems happy to kick care into the long grass.
“Ministers treat our beleaguered care system like a Cinderella service, instead of giving it the respect it deserves.”