Keir Starmer suggests extra taxes on landlords and financial traders could fund social care reform

Keir Starmer has set out Labour’s alternative to the Conservatives’ “half-baked” plans for social care reform through a National Insurance rise, saying Labour would instead “ask those with the broadest shoulders” - including landlords and financial traders - to carry the burden.

Labour leader Keir Starmer has sketched out an alternative strategy for social care reform.

In a speech to the Local Government Association Labour Leaders’ Summit on Saturday, Mr Starmer said the proposals put forward by the Government last week “won’t work, aren’t fair, and don’t improve the quality of care”.

He told Labour council leaders: “The government have admitted they’re expecting local authorities to make up for shortfalls in funding, and cover increasing need and rising costs.

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“So let’s be clear what that means: the government is yet again forcing local authorities to put up council tax. This is after £8bn of devastating cuts.”

Mr Starmer said: “The government act like there was no alternative but there clearly was. The money could have been raised by taxing the incomes of landlords, and those who buy and sell large quantities of financial assets, stocks and shares.

“Labour are clear we would ask those with the broadest shoulders to carry the burden.”

Mr Starmer added: “Labour’s aim isn’t just to ‘fix the crisis in social care’ – as the Prime Minster has repeatedly promised but failed to deliver. Instead, Labour’s vision for social care is to ensure all older and disabled people get the support they need to live the life they choose.

“We would transform access to care making sure every older and disabled person who needs support get it where they need it; enshrine a principle of ‘Home First’ care and shift the focus to prevention and early intervention; champion independent and fulfilling lives for working age adults with disabilities – so people have choice and control over the support they get, and their views drive change in the system; deliver a New Deal for care workers.

"We can’t deliver good social care without the workforce to match; and we would ensure partnership with families - ensuring unpaid carers get the support they need. But it’s disappointing we don’t have a government willing to show the same ambition.”

Following Mr Starmer’s speech on Saturday, the Sunday Telegraph reported that an official Government impact assessment of its planned 1.25 percentage point tax increase on National Insurance could have “an impact on family formation, stability or breakdown as individuals, who are currently just about managing financially, will see their disposable income reduce”.

The report said the move could also have an impact on “business decisions around wage bills and recruitment”. One MP told the paper they had received angry letters referring to the levy as the “poll tax 2.0” – a phrase that was also used by voters in a focus group.

Health Secretary says changes will lead to 'stronger' social care system

Health Secretary Sajid Javid has said it is “not at all” the case that the Government is shifting the responsibility of social care onto councils.

Asked about the issue on Sky News on Sunday, he said: “Already today, spending on adult social care is in normal times around £20 billion a year, that’s a combination of funding from central government and locally raised funds.

“What we’ve announced this week is a top-up on that to provide more workplace training, this new system of a cap, and better means testing.

“It will remain a combination of funds and each year will be determined based on need but the changes that we’ve announced will make it a stronger system and local authorities will continue to play a hugely important role in that.”

The Conservatives have faced criticism for their plans breaking a manifesto commitment not to increase the rate of National Insurance. But Mr Javid said it would not have been right to just “doggedly” stick to Conservative manifesto promises in the light of the “unprecedented strain” on the health service caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

“I think it’s no exaggeration to say that no-one had predicted this pandemic and that it has changed so many things, and we could respond to that in a responsible way, and that’s what we’ve done.

“And I wasn’t prepared to see as the Health Secretary where, for example with the NHS, with the growth that we’ve seen in the waiting list, I wasn’t prepared to see that waiting to be any higher than it needs to be.

“I want that waiting list to be tackled, and the way to do that is to make sure that the resources are there and we’re also making sure of the right reforms.”

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