Olive branch offered over care reforms
Labour has vowed to put its rivalry with the Conservatives aside in order to solve the conundrum of paying for long-term care for older people.
With reports suggesting that reform plans are far from complete, despite Government recommendations supposed to have been published last autumn, shadow health secretary Andy Burnham wants his party to bury the hatchet with the coalition temporarily to resolve the issue.
He warned that politicians were in danger of failing millions of older people if they did not come to some sort of agreement over their social care funding.
The BBC reported that the Government's response to the recommendations of the Dilnot Commission - which drew suggestions for reform - had been delayed until July as agreement could not be reached regarding certain aspects of the reforms.
The Dilnot Commission proposed that the amount individuals had to pay out for social care before the Government helped them out would be capped at £35,000, at an estimated cost to the taxpayer of £1.7 billion a year.
Mr Burnham insisted that the time was right to sort this issue once and for all - hence the offer to forgo party rivalries temporarily.
He said: "People have waited long enough for political parties to get their act together, and leaving the current flawed system in place would be the worst of all possible worlds," he told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme.
"There is no solution to this without some difficult options and I think it is possibly fear of the political impact that is making the Government step back.
"The offer I would make today to the Government is almost to suspend politics as usual to give them the space to bring forward some difficult options without the usual point-scoring.
"That is really what we have been trying to do through the cross-party talks. I really want those talks to succeed because how depressing would it be for the millions of older people to see politicians fail to grasp this nettle?"
Conservative MP Matthew Hancock, a close ally of Chancellor George Osborne, said the Government was moving towards a solution but cross-party agreement was essential.
"The need to tackle the problem of social care and also to ensure that people don't have to sell their homes to pay for it if they don't want to, I think, is vital and is grasped," he told the Today programme.
"The fact that we have got a draft bill in the Queen's Speech is progress but it does need cross-party support because this is a long-term issue."