Cancel party conferences to tackle crisis

Independent Care Group Chair Mike Padgham is calling on politicians to scrap party conferences to concentrate on tackling problems facing the country, including the crisis in the care of older and vulnerable people.

The House of Commons is due to rise on 22 September for the party conference season and not return until 17 October.

But Mr Padgham says that shouldn’t happen this year.

“Understandably we have lost an awful lot of parliamentary time over the past couple of months, at a time when the country is in crisis,” he said.

“With households and businesses facing the current devastating cost of living crisis, this isn’t the time for politicians to be spending more time away from the House of Commons.

“These are extraordinary times and I would say they call for an extraordinary response and if that means cancelling the party conferences so that our elected MPs can concentrate on getting the country out of the current mess then that is what should happen.”

Mr Padgham says the Tory Party leadership election caused a period of limbo when action was needed over the cost-of-living crisis.

“Prime Minister Liz Truss took office and began announcing measures to try to tackle the crisis,” he added.

“Then, quite understandably, parliamentary business was quite rightly suspended due to the death of the Queen.

“But we will need to get back on with tackling the domestic issues that haven’t gone away and are still putting people’s care and people’s livelihoods at risk.

“Now isn’t the time for politicians to be going off to Liverpool or Birmingham to hold conferences, it is the time to be in Parliament coming up with solutions to the current crises.”

Care providers, still reeling from the after-effects of the Covid-19 pandemic are now facing the cost-of-living crisis and acute staff shortages – with 165,000 care vacancies.

Whilst the ICG welcomed the six-month cap on energy prices for businesses, announced by the Prime Minister it has warned more needs to be done.

It says for some care providers it might be too little, too late and for others just a stay of execution.

Mr Padgham added: “Rocketing fuel prices for homecare providers and gas and electricity prices for care and nursing homes are plunging many into very real financial difficulty and threatening their existence.

“Social care providers have endured a 683% increase in energy costs over the past year, according to research by Box Power CIC and Care England. This translates to an increase in cost for gas and electricity from £660 per bed to £5,166.

“This is not sustainable for care providers and there will be closures.

“We are urging the Government to make good on its promise to provide more help for vulnerable sectors and to include social care in those sectors.

“At the same time, we need to see urgent measures to help us tackle the dire shortage of care workers, which is severely limiting the care we can provide.

“We need to see more of the Health and Social Care Levy targeted at social care straight away to help providers to recruit the staff they need to face this winter.”