4: Learning from the past

This chapter examines the efforts of successive governments to reform social care. It summarises the timeline of various inquiries, commissions and White Papers, including Dilnot; the ‘death tax’ row in 2010; the false dawn of the Care Act 2014; and the ‘dementia tax’ controversy in 2017. It refers to the ‘Build Back Better’ plans to introduce a cap on care costs and the White Paper ‘People at the Heart of Care’ published in 2021 (assessed more fully in ).

The chapter identifies what can be learned from failures in funding reform and what needs to be different for reform to succeed. This includes clarity in framing the purpose of reform; the importance of timing in relation to the electoral cycle; the need for cross-party cooperation if not consensus; raising public awareness of social care; and the need for realism in not making the perfect the enemy of the good.

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