Webinar: Can politicians 'get social care done'?

25 May 2021

Beryl social care

Despite an overwhelming political consensus that the social care system needs radical reform, successive governments over the last two decades have ducked it.     

Two years after the prime minister said there was a ‘clear plan prepared’, the recent Queen’s Speech showed no momentum for real progress and hinted at messy negotiations within government.   

Against this backdrop of 25 years of frustration, our panel discussed what it would take for the government to finally move the needle on social care reform. Is the key issue at stake simply a battle between Number 10 and Treasury? Or is there something more at play? And what are the political dynamics behind the constant lip service to social care reform, while reform itself is kept forever on the horizon? 

This webinar took place on Tuesday 25 May 2021.


Damian was first elected to Parliament in 1997 to represent the Ashford constituency, most recently re-elected in December 2019.

He is a former financial journalist, educated at Reading School and Balliol College, Oxford, becoming President of the Oxford Union in 1977. 

He worked in the No.10 Policy Unit from 1992-94. From 2012-14 he was Minister of State for Policing, Criminal Justice and Victims, and in 2016 he was appointed Secretary of State for Work and Pensions. He was First Secretary of State and Minister for the Cabinet Office from June-December 2017.

Damian serves on the Digital, Culture, Media, Digital and Sport Select Committee, is Chairman of the APPG for Longevity and Co-Chair of the Adult Social Care APPG.

Damian Green Crop

Liz Kendall has been the Labour MP for Leicester West since 2010. Since 2020, she has served as the Shadow Minister for Social Care, having previously held the role of Shadow Minister for Care and Older People from 2011-2015. 

Prior to becoming an MP, Ms Kendall held a number of high-profile positions in the think-tank and charities sector. She was Director of The Maternity Alliance (now Maternity Action), a national charity that promotes the health and well-being of pregnant women, their partners and young children. In this role, she campaigned for improved maternity and paternity rights, and more rights to flexible working. She has also been Director of the Ambulance Service Network, for whom she worked alongside patients’ groups and NHS staff to ensure full access to good emergency care services.
Ms Kendall has also held the position of Associate Director of the Institute for Public Policy Research, where she led on health, social care and children’s early years, and she was also a researcher at the King’s Fund where she focused on measures aimed at tackling local health inequalities.  

Liz Kendall MP

Sarah Neville is the global health editor for the Financial Times.

She has been with the paper for 20 years, working in senior editing and reporting positions, including weekend news editor, analysis editor, UK news editor, public policy editor and global pharmaceuticals editor.

After cutting her teeth on local newspapers and a medical trade magazine, she joined the Lobby, becoming political editor for the Yorkshire Post. In 1995 she was awarded the Laurence Stern Fellowship, spending several months on the Washington Post.    

Sarah Neville FT

Charles joined the Health Foundation in February 2019 as Assistant Director for the REAL Centre.

Before joining the Health Foundation, Charles was head of operational research and evaluation at NHS England, where he led a multidisciplinary team of around 40 analysts. The team built a strong reputation based on their analysis and evaluations of major service changes including the New Care Models programme, Babylon GP at Hand, enhanced NHS 111 and pharmacy integration. In this role he led the innovative partnership with the Health Foundation resulting in the creation of the Improvement Analytics Unit, which undertakes high quality impact analyses based on advanced statistical and modelling techniques.

He also has experience of working regionally in the NHS, leading the analytical team in the NHS England South region when it was formed in 2013

Most of Charles’ career has been in the civil service where he worked on a diverse range of areas, and learnt the art and science of policy analysis. He started his civil service career as an operational researcher in the Department of Health (working on the national beds inquiry) and then moved to the newly formed Prime Minister’s Strategy Unit as lead policy analyst on reform of the post office, with a further stint there working on illegal drugs policy. He had a spell in HM Treasury and then moved to New Zealand where he spent four years in its Treasury working on health reform and on economic strategy.

From 2010-11 he was Chief Analyst to the Dilnot Commission, subsequently heading the Department of Health social care funding reform team and the social care analysis team.

Charles Tallack


Dr Jennifer Dixon joined the Health Foundation as Chief Executive in October 2013.

Jennifer was Chief Executive of the Nuffield Trust from 2008 to 2013. Prior to this, she was Director of Policy at The King’s Fund and was the policy advisor to the Chief Executive of the National Health Service between 1998 and 2000. Jennifer has undertaken research and written widely on health care reform both in the UK and internationally.

Originally trained in medicine, Jennifer practised mainly paediatric medicine, prior to a career in policy analysis. She has a Master’s in public health and a PhD in health services research from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. In 1990–91, Jennifer was a Harkness Fellow in New York.

Jennifer has served as a Board member on several national regulatory bodies: the Health Care Commission 2004–2009; the Audit Commission 2003–2012; and the Care Quality Commission 2013–2016. She has led two national inquiries for government: on the setting up of published ratings of quality of NHS and social care providers in England (2013); and on the setting up of ratings for general practices (2015). She was also a member of the Parliamentary Review Panel for the Welsh Assembly Government advising on the future strategy for the NHS and social care in Wales (2017–2018).

In 2009, Jennifer was elected a fellow of the Royal College of Physicians, and in 2019 was elected as a fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences. She was awarded a CBE for services to public health in 2013, and a Doctor of Science from Bristol University in 2016. She has held visiting professorships at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, the London School of Economics, and Imperial College Business School.

Jennifer Dixon, Chief Executive of the Health Foundation

Related analysis


If not now, when? The long overdue promise of social care reform

10 May 2021

Despite government promising to 'fix the crisis in social care once and for all', no plan to reform...

Press release


Adult social care and COVID-19 after the first wave: assessing the policy response in England

May 2021

Our analysis of the national government policy response for social care after the first wave of the...


The REAL Challenge: Beyond crystal balls and COVID-19


Catch up on the inaugural REAL Challenge Lecture by Sir Andrew Dilnot in which he outlined how...

REAL Centre

You might also like...

Press release

Social care COVID-19 deaths highlight need for government to go further on funding and reform

Press release

Health Foundation response to Office for National Statistics data on deaths in the care sector in...

Consultation response

Briefing on the Health and Care Bill: House of Lords Second Reading

Consultation response

Our briefing for the House of Lords on the Health and Care Bill 2021/22.

Press release

New vision for social care will feel like hollow words without the money to deliver it

Press release

Health Foundation response to publication of the Government’s adult social care reform white paper.

Kjell-bubble-diagramArtboard 101 copy

Get social

This week's @ONS data revealed that nearly 25,000 people in care homes died of COVID-19 in 2020 – around one in six… https://t.co/5hpE0IvWUH

Follow us on Twitter
Kjell-bubble-diagramArtboard 101

Work with us

We look for talented and passionate individuals as everyone at the Health Foundation has an important role to play.

View current vacancies
Artboard 101 copy 2

The Q community

Q is an initiative connecting people with improvement expertise across the UK.

Find out more