CareHealthHealthcareNewsSocial Care

Guarded Welcome For Labour Social Care Plan

SOCIAL CARE providers have given a guarded welcome to the Labour Party’s reported priorities for the sector at the coming General Election.

They have welcomed plans to make pay for social care workers a priority, to tackle the severe staff shortages that are crippling care delivery.

But they have also expressed concerns about Labour’s ‘cautious’ timetable for more radical reform, including the creation of a National Care Service.

The social care provider organisation, The Independent Care Group (ICG) says it applauds Labour for focusing on staff.

ICG Chair Mike Padgham is due to meet Shadow Social Care Minister Andrew Gwynne to discuss the crisis in the sector shortly.

He said: “We have always said that paying staff properly and tackling the severe staffing shortages has to be the number one priority and so welcome reports that Labour shares this concern and would address it in its first term, if elected. Tackling social care workers’ pay will inevitably bring greater funding into the sector, which has to be welcome.

“We understand Labour’s cautious approach given the current financial climate and the problems that have befallen other political parties when they have set out reform of social care for an election.

“Reform is going to take time and we would prefer to see it done and done properly, rather than repeat the broken promises, from all political parties, that we have seen over the past 30 years.

“However, we do have concerns that this cautious approach will not deliver the changes the sector needs, quickly enough. Experts agree that social care needs investment and it needs it quickly if it is to start providing care to the 1.6m people who currently can’t access it and the many thousands more who will need it in the years to come. Estimates range from an extra £7bn a year upwards, as a minimum.

“There is also widespread agreement that a National Care Service, bringing both NHS healthcare and social care under one roof is the best way forward as we try, as a country, to get both sides working properly.

“We would like to see proposals for major funding reform, allied to creating a National Care Service in all parties’ manifestos for the General Election, with a promise that work will begin immediately after the election.

“We agree that reform cannot happen overnight but politics at the moment is a fickle and ever-changing landscape and which of our parties can say with confidence that if elected they will govern for one, two or more parliamentary terms?

“If reported correctly, Labour is saying all the right things. But we need to see bold reform and a sense of urgency from all the political parties. Social care has waited long enough.”