Burstow’s Bluster

I, like many others in the sector, no doubt, were perplexed by the headline as I read it yesterday on the Guardian website that Paul Burstow, the Minister of State for Care Services, claimed there was ‘no funding crisis in social care’.

Although I follow Burstow fairly regularly and have a good idea of his rhetoric, I thought it was worth checking to see if a quotation or ‘soundbite’ had been taken out of context.

Indeed, he concedes that there needs to be a push of money from the private sector into the care sector – I’m not sure how exactly he intends for this to happen because unlike in the health sector, there’s not much left to privatise in adult social care.

And, the Guardian says

“There is no gap in the current spending review period on the basis of the money that we are putting in plus efficiency gains through local authorities redesigning services,” the minister said. If councils failed to pass on the money or to make efficiency gains, that was their choice, he said.

Which is the key behind his headline quotation. This presentation which he gave to the House of Commons Health Select Committee was intended to absolve the current coalition government for any responsibility for the current hacking away at services in a cynical way that loses him considerable faith from those of us in the sector.

‘Efficiency gains’ are all very well but they are unquantifiable and generally are cuts. ‘Redesigning services’ means cuts in services which Burstow is desperately trying to deny but he has to accept responsibility as a member of a government which lashed local government with massive cuts without ringfencing money around social care provisions. Saying ‘if the councils failed to pass on the money or to make efficiency gains, that was their choice’ is the most insulting part of that statement.

Either he is dim or he thinks that the general public are dim if he truly believes that.

As for me, I wish we had a concerned minister responsible for care services who really understood the sector. This just makes Burstow seem remote and disinterested – fiddling like Nero, as Rome burns.

We deserve better from our government but have come to expect the absolute minimum in terms of an understanding of issues ‘on the ground’ from those responsible for them.

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