'Elderly care is in the trash bin': Sacked minister attacks George Osborne for blocking reforms

  • Sacked Lib Dem Paul Burstow says Chancellor lacks urgency in finding £1.7bn needed to fund social care
  • Government insiders claim ex-minister is 'out of the loop' and talking 'nonsense'
  • Charities demand the government show 'vision' and give the go ahead to reforms

By Matt Chorley, Mailonline Political Editor


Paul Burstow, who was sacked in the Cabinet reshuffle, has hit out at Chancellor George Osborne

Paul Burstow, who was sacked in the Cabinet reshuffle, has hit out at Chancellor George Osborne

George Osborne was today accused of trying to consign reform elderly care to the ‘trash bin’.

Liberal Democrat Paul Burstow, who was social care minister until this month’s reshuffle, accused the Chancellor and the Treasury of ‘bureaucratic inertia’ in holding back reform of the social care system.

Mr Burstow told MailOnline that an overhaul of the way care is funded, based on proposals drawn up by economist Andrew Dilnot has been finalised, but the Treasury will not sign off on the £1.7bn cost.
‘In the end there is a question of political will to overcome that bureaucratic inertia,’ he said.

‘The thing that has kept Dilnot alive has been the Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg saying this has got to stay on the table while there was a desire by the Treasury to get it in the trash bin as quickly as possible.

‘It is an institutional thing. There is a real inertia around reforms of this sort that has bedevilled reform of social care for two decades.

‘I have no doubt it was a key factor why Labour failed to deal with it when there was money around.


‘It has been a key drag on trying to make progress over the last two years of the coalition.’

Last month it was reported that David Cameron had pledged to find the money, which would cap the amount individuals pay at £35,000 – with the taxpayer picking up the rest.

But Mr Burstow said there was little sense of urgency: ‘There was certainly no sign of the Treasury beating a path to the door of the Department of Health.’

However, government insiders sought to play down Mr Burstow’s insight into the progress of the plan.

‘If this former minister really believes what he has said he was clearly out of the loop,’ said one source. It is utter nonsense.’

Mr Burstow also claimed that the controversial reforms of the NHS, drawn up by Andrew Lansley who was demoted in the reshuffle, had made senior minister reluctant to tackle social care.

‘There is no doubt that the controversy around the health reforms made some of the actors in this worry about future reform.

‘But many of those players, including the Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister and others, probably hadn’t tuned into enough at the time to see the fact that this was a popular set of changes not a controversial set of changes.’

Chancellor George Osborne was accused of having 'no sense of urgency' about helping the elderly fund their long-term care

Chancellor George Osborne was accused of having 'no sense of urgency' about helping the elderly fund their long-term care

Mr Burstow said he had received scores of ‘heart-rending’ letters form families in despair at the care system’

‘I still think there is a good chance this can happen but the only way to help it happen at this point is bringing into sharp relief the Treasury’s role.’

Mr Dilnot suggested a cap of £35,000 for care bills. The state would pay costs over this amount while people could also take out insurance to pay fees up to £35,000.

Ministers said they supported the idea in principle but have not committed the £1.7billion needed to fund the reform.

The Government is considering a watered down version, which could impose a voluntary cap which would only protect those who paid a fee to ‘opt in’.

Writing in the Daily Telegraph, Mr Burstow added: ‘The Treasury’s view is simple, kick the can down the road ... There’s no sense of urgency.’

But a Treasury spokesman said: ‘The Treasury has been key in getting this issue back on the agenda, not least by working to deliver stable public finances that are essential if Dilnot is to be delivered.’

Campaigners responded to Mr Burstow's remarks with a call for government action.

Michelle Mitchell, charity director general of Age UK said: 'Putting a cap on lifetime care costs would grant older people and their families the invaluable gift of peace of mind.

'Coming toward the end of life and having to ask for help in carrying out everyday tasks is often devastating in itself but in addition to risk losing nearly everything you have ever worked for in care fees is heart-breaking.

'Those living in a care home have to live with the fear of what will happen to them when their savings run out and whether they will be forced to leave.

'This is why the Government must show the vision and courage to bring in the Dilnot reforms as the report recommended and so create a just and compassionate legacy for generations to come.'

Labour today repeated its offer of cross-party talks to find a long-term solution to the funding of elderly care.

Liz Kendall, shadow care minister said: 'Labour has been warning for months that the Government is kicking long-term care funding into the long grass.

'This issue has bedevilled Governments of all political persuasions for many years, because there are no simple solutions or easy options.

'All the parties must now come together to try and reach consensus about how we tackle the immediate care crisis and develop a better, fairer system for the future.'


The comments below have been moderated in advance.

Many people in care homes do not have the capacity to vote for reasons of poor physical or mental health. So why would the government care what they think? Politicians only care about being re-elected at the next election and staying on the gravy train. Anyone who will not be eligible or able to vote in 2015 is of no interest to any politician.

Click to rate     Rating   11

What is wrong with pensioners paying for their own care? The problem is that government wants to win the next election and won't therefore annoy the voters. If the offspring of the old wish to inherit their parents hard earned wealth, they should take them into their own homes and look after them. I do not expect the state to look after me in old age until I have no money whatsoever. Those who have assets should pay for their own care until the money runs out.The real problem is that the state has left care to private enterprise who in the search for more profit rip off the old. What is needed is real and honest regulation and help for local authorities and charities to run care homes in a non profit making way. Then we might get the care homes we deserve.

Click to rate     Rating   23

So why were these comments not made available to the public when Burstow was a Minister in the Coalition Government ? Strange how bitterness can encourage people to make statements they possibly would not have made if they had not lost their job.

Click to rate     Rating   20

If the elderly have to fund the first £50,000 of care then those who will benefit by not having to sell their homes are the moneyed elderly. Most old people don't have that amount of cash.

Click to rate     Rating   34

I must have missed something somewhere. I thought they had already done that. If you have worked all your life, saved and bought a nice house, you pay. If you have never worked, or spent all your money, you don't. What does Mr Osborne propose to change? It is still the same people who pay regardless of what the cap is.

Click to rate     Rating   51

look, he only wants to go back to the `good ol days` what`s wrong with that for heavens sake ?

Click to rate     Rating   23

Osbourne and Cameron you muppets, charity begins at HOME. STOP ALL OVERSEAS AID, redirect it to helping our elderly and not overseas nations who do not need or want it, eg helping India buy warships and send rockets into space. Then perhaps you will have done something right and good for once.

Click to rate     Rating   60

pensioners who some fought for this country so osborne /cameron and his bunch of wally's could live the life they are living today and this is the thanks pensioners get

Click to rate     Rating   59

There are 15 MILLOIOM UK State Pensioners who are ELIGIBLE to VOTE at any UK Election, both Local and General, so be VERY CAREFUL how you treast them, and what you say about them. They could wipe ANY Political Party OFF the Political Map, Legally and WITHOUT street demonstrations. Call it the Ballot Box Revolution if you like ! 15 MILLION ??? You can Tax our Pensions ! You cannot Tax our VOTE !

Click to rate     Rating   75

Policeman just doing his job should have arrested the arrogant MP as he would anyone else who flaunts the honest rules of society and treats the law with scorn. Three charges, cycling causing danger, flaunting and disrespecting the law, and behaviour unbecoming of the title he has had bestowed on him, charge him then sack him now Mr Cameron show us you treat all people the same.

Click to rate     Rating   42

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