Tories and Labour must go beyond Lib Dems’ £5bn pledge

POLITICIANS meeting at the Conservative and Labour Party conferences must be bold and go beyond Liberal Democrat proposals to provide an extra £5bn a year for social care, the Independent Care Group says.

The ICG has called on the two other main parties to promise at least the extra £8bn a year experts say is needed to get social care back on track.

They say some of the extra money could come from savings made to NHS budgets because of better care in the community.

ICG Chair Mike Padgham welcomed the extra £5bn a year promised by the Liberal Democrats at its conference in Bournemouth but warned that it wasn’t enough.

“All the experts say a minimum of £8bn a year is needed just to get social care back on an even footing and to begin meeting current demand,” he said. “So we need the political parties to be bold and promise at least that.

“This need not be all new money because some of it could come from savings made to NHS budgets once social care is properly supported and people are able to get the care they need in the community rather than in expensive acute hospital beds.

“Spending on homecare and on supporting care and nursing homes is an investment in keeping people well and out of hospital.

“The Liberal Democrats have nailed their colours to the mast on social care with a £5bn a year pledge for the sector. But we need to see the Conservatives and Labour better that proposal when they meet for their conferences.”

The ICG has produced specially-branded editions of its blueprint document, the Five Pillars of Social Care Reform for the three parties. It has written to the Conservatives and Labour, urging them to put social care on their conference agendas.

The Conservatives hold their conference in Manchester from 1st to 4th October and the Labour Party in Liverpool from 8th to 11th October.

“Reform for social care and equality for the people who deliver it can really only come from one place and that is Westminster,” Mr Padgham added. “Only those with their hands on the levers of power can bring about real change in social care – which party will make the commitment to be the first to actually fix social care? Getting social care reform discussed during the conferences is an important step towards having it in the party manifestos when the country goes to the polls in a General Election, probably next year.

“At the moment it isn’t even being discussed, which is frightening for the 1.6m people who currently can’t get care and the many more who will be added to that list in the coming months and years.”

The ICG has set out its priorities for social care reform in that Five Pillars document. The five pillars are:

  • Ring fence a percentage of GDP to be spent on providing social care to

those who already receive it and the 1.6m who can’t get it

  • Create a unified National Care Service, incorporating health and

social care

  • Set a National Minimum Wage per hour for care staff on a par with NHS
  • Set up an urgent social care task force to oversee reform
  • Fix ‘fair price for care’ tariffs for things like care beds and

homecare visits.