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By Debbie le Quesne

The challenge for new Care Minister Alistair Burt

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Goodbye Norman Lamb, the former Lib Dem Care Minister: hello Conservative Alistair Burt, who has now been appointed to the role.

Under Lamb’s watch he juggled a heavy Westminster workload – not least ensuring passage of the watershed Care Act – with a remorseless programme of visits to observe care practice.

Was he the best care minister ever? It’s too early to say, but he had a good innings, which will also be remembered for his work on mental health reform. Paul Farmer, chief executive of mental health charity Mind, describes him as “a fantastic advocate,”

As for his social care achievements, I genuinely believe he wanted to do more, but under the whip of a coalition Cabinet he was always going to be hamstrung by council grant cuts of some 40 per cent.

With Burt in the chair, who know what will emerge.

For sure, local government leaders will be keen to lobby the new minister to address ongoing concerns over a shortage of funding for social care. That chorus will also be echoes in other quarters, and not least my West Midlands Care Association.

Commenting on Twitter he expressed his appreciation for the role and the chance to work with “extraordinary” people within the sector. Indeed, care industry people are extraordinary . . . extraordinarily patient as they wait for much-need Government financial aid, extraordinarily resourceful as they wait seemingly forever for market-driven fee levels to be paid by local authorities buying care, and extraordinarily committed to the clients they serve.

Burt has a chance to shine, but has he got the political leverage to challenge the party line on social care cuts? We’ll have to see.

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