Campaigners today challenged the main party leaders to attend a major conference ahead of the General Election and set out how they plan to tackle the crisis in the care of older and vulnerable people.
The Independent Care Group (ICG) says its conference in York on 20th November would be an ideal platform for the party leaders to set out their plans for social care.
It says the public has a right to see and judge how any future government will tackle a crisis which has left 1.4m going living the care they need.
The ICG has written to Boris Johnson, Jeremy Corbyn and Jo Swinson inviting them to the conference at York Racecourse on 20th November.
It has also launched its own social care manifesto calling on politicians to make firm pledges to tackle social care and commit to investing more in care, from taxation or National Insurance.
Chair Mike Padgham said: “This is a rare platform for all the party leaders to set out in firm election pledges how they plan to tackle the crisis in social care, once and for all.
“It is a chance for the electorate to judge where the political parties stand on social care and to hold them accountable. We have had government after government promising and failing to tackle social care.
“Enough is enough, we want to see some clear pledges on the way ahead – what they plan to do and when they plan to do it.”
In its manifesto, the ICG calls for the next government to get more money into social care to halt a crisis which has seen care homes closing and home care providers handing back untenable contracts.
The ICG calls for better funding of social care, through taxation or National Insurance and for social care and NHS care to be merged and managed centrally or locally.
Mr Padgham added: “The key aspects are ensuring that we get a firm pledge from the party leaders to tackle social care and get more money into the sector.
“I believe that people are now willing to pay a little more through taxation or National Insurance if it means we, as a country, get a proper social care service to give our older and vulnerable people the care they deserve.
“We must also ensure that people receiving publicly-funded care receive it in their own home or close to where they live so that people aren’t forced to move away from their own community.”
The ICG suggests that a fixed percentage of GDP should be spent on social care, that dementia should be regarded as a health issue, like cancer or heart disease, that there should be a cap on social care costs, including ‘hotel’ charges and that people should be encouraged to save for their own care, as they do for a pension.
It also calls for measures to improve the standing of care staff to improve recruitment, including a minimum wage for social care workers, above the National Living Wage and more nurse training and bursaries to encourage recruitment and help end the shortage of nurses in care.
The ICG also wants to see a minimum, agreed level of care fees, social care businesses to be zero-rated for VAT so that they can claim it back, as other business sectors do and the Care Quality Commission to have much greater powers to oversee all commissioning practices such as per minute billing and 15-minute visits.