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Liz fights for a real plan for social care

Since Parliament came back after the summer, the biggest issue has been the Government’s ‘NHS and social care levy’ (a 1.25% increase in National Insurance Contributions) which they claim will fix the crisis in social care.

The two key tests for the Tories about this proposal are: will it work, and is it fair?

The answer to both is no. Not a penny of the National Insurance tax rise will go into social care now – all the additional funding will go into the NHS – and there is no guarantee there will be any extra funding for social care in future. It will not add a single extra minute of care and support, or improve the quality of life for older and disabled people, or tackle appalling staff shortages, give frontline staff a pay rise, or do anything to help unpaid family carers who are pushed to breaking point. The £86,000 cap on care costs won’t stop people having to sell their homes to pay for their care either.

What the Tories announcement does mean is an unfair tax rise on younger and low paid workers, including the very care staff on whom social care depends. Alongside the freeze in the personal allowance, and cuts to Universal Credit, this means low paid workers will lose over £1,000 a year.

It also puts huge extra burdens on our local councils, on top of the £8 billion cuts to their budgets since the Conservatives came to power.

Labour’s plan for social care doesn’t just aim to ‘fix the crisis’ in social care but transform it, so all older and disabled people can live the life they choose and so their views drive change throughout the system.

Labour will increase access to care, so older and disabled people get the right support, when and where they need it; join up NHS and care services, and shift the focus towards prevention with a new principle of ‘home first’; ensure independent and fulfilling lives for working age adults with disabilities; deliver a New Deal for Care Workers so frontline staff get the pay, training, terms and conditions they deserve; and put unpaid family carers at the heart of the system with better information and advice, respite breaks and greater flexibility at work. To fund this, Labour will ensure those with the broadest shoulders bear the greatest burden, with a bigger contribution from wealthier people and from unearned income and financial assets too.

You can read more about our vision for social care in my speech to the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services Conference here. You can also listen to my comments on Sky News here.