Social care; this is how Labour would fix crisis – Liz Kendall

OVER 800 days since the Prime Minister stood on the steps of Downing Street and promised to ‘fix the crisis in social care… once and for all’, we finally got sight of the ‘clear plan he had prepared’.

And now we’ve had a chance to look through it, this ‘plan’ of Boris Johnson’s is yet another broken promise.

What those who use social care, and their families, needed was a plan that dealt with the immediate pressures while setting out a long-term vision that would put social care where it belongs – on an equal footing with the NHS, at the heart of a modernised welfare state.

How should social care be reformed? Labour has set out its vision via Liz Kendall, the Shadow Social Care Minister.

And yet, the Conservatives have proposed a plan that doesn’t fix the crisis in social care, let alone deliver real reform. Instead, they have delivered a National Insurance tax hike on working people, which won’t provide any additional resources for social care until 2023, with little, if any guarantee of extra funding after that.

Right now, a staggering 400,000 older and disabled people are on council waiting lists for care, with 40,000 waiting over a year. There are over 100,000 staff vacancies and turnover rates are soaring.

Because of this, 1.5 million hours of home care couldn’t be delivered between August and October alone, and half of all councils have reported care homes going bust or home care providers handing back contracts.

Hundreds of thousands of older and disabled people are being left without the help they need, piling even more pressure on the NHS.

Liz Kendall is the Shadow Social Care Minister and a Labour MP.

It should never have got to this point. But the Government could have proposed a solution by shifting the focus of care towards prevention, and early intervention, so people can stay living independently in their own homes for as long as possible.

Labour’s plan would make sure that all older and disabled people can get the right support at the right time. This is better for them, and better for the taxpayer, as it stops people having to use more expensive hospital or residential care when they don’t need to.

We would put the views of disabled people at the heart of our vision, based on the principle of independent living and underpinned by choice and control, including through direct payments and personal budgets.

This cannot be achieved without enough staff, with the right training, working in the right teams. Yet there was no proposals to deliver a long-term strategy to transform the pay, training, terms and conditions of care workers, deliver at least half a million extra care workers by 2030, and make sure that care workers feel just as valued as their NHS colleagues.

How should social care be reformed? Labour has set out its vision via Liz Kendall, the Shadow Social Care Minister.

Labour’s New Deal for Care Workers would deliver this, ensuring there is proper career progression for frontline staff, and guaranteeing care workers a real living wage of at least £10 an hour.

And the proposals that the Government put forward for England’s 11 million family carers, who provide the majority of care in this country, are frankly shameful.

Unpaid carers have been pushed to breaking point trying to look after the people they love. Almost half say they hadn’t had a break for five years before the pandemic and 80 per cent say they’re providing even more care now.

But the funding the Minister announced amounts to just £1.60 more for each unpaid carer per year. Families in this country deserve so much better than this.

How should social care be reformed? Labour has set out its vision via Liz Kendall, the Shadow Social Care Minister.

On top of all of this, the Government aren’t even guaranteeing that nobody will have to sell their home to pay for care, despite repeated promises from the Prime Minister.

Under his plans, if you own a £1m home, more than 90 per cent of your assets are protected. If you own a home worth £100,000, you could lose almost everything.

That means that a homeowner living somewhere like Grimsby or Halifax would be at risk of losing two thirds of their assets if they needed care. Millions of working people are being asked to pay more tax, not to improve their family’s care, or stop their life savings being wiped out, but to protect the homes of the wealthy.

This working-class dementia tax is unfair, it’s wrong, and will not fix the very real issues facing social care today.

Social care should be about ensuring older and disabled people can live the lives they choose, in the place they call home, with the people they love, doing the things that matter to them most.

In other words, an equal life to everyone else. When the welfare state was created, average life expectancy was 63. Now it’s 80 and one in four babies born today is set to live to 100. Social care was left out of the initial post-war settlement but is now essential to ensuring older and disabled people can live the life they choose.

This is the level of ambition we needed from the Government. They have failed to deliver.

Liz Kendall is the Shadow Social Care Minister and a Labour MP.

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