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Labour conference: care proposals announced

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John McDonnell MP, Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer, anouncement, free personal care, point of use, England, next Labour governmentWelcome plans, given that women bear the brunt of the current care crisis.

Labour’s Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer has announced that the next Labour government would make personal social care free at the point of use as part of the expansion of Labour’s proposed Universal Basic Services.

Launching Labour’s new social care document ‘A National Care Service: Labour’s Vision‘, at the Labour party’s annual conference in Brighton this week, John McDonnell MP, Labour’s Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer, said Labour would:

Introduce free personal care for all older people, providing help with daily tasks such as getting in and out of bed, bathing and washing, and preparing meals, in their own homes and residential care;

Address the funding gap in social care;

Support local authorities to directly provide, rather than outsource, care; and

Support the care workforce better, to ensure that older people receive support from trained staff who have the time and skills needed to provide care.

Labour has also pledged to raise standards of care by ending the use of zero-hour contracts, ensuring that carers are paid a real living wage, including for travel time; end 15-minute care visits; and improve access to training and development for care staff.

Speaking at the launch of ‘Towards a National Care Service: Labour’s Vision’, McDonnell said: “As the first building block in our new National Care Service the next Labour government will introduce personal care, free at the point of use in England.

“Funded not through the Conservatives’ gimmicky insurance schemes but, like the NHS and our other essentials, through general taxation.

“And we’re publishing the first steps of our National Care Service vision today.

“Investing in the workforce and ensuring they are employed on local authority rates of pay, working conditions and training to deliver high quality care, as Unison and GMB have advocated.

“And over time, we will bring those services back into public ownership and democratic control.

“We’ll make sure that local councils have the necessary resources after years of savage cuts. Building up capacity in local government for both care homes and domiciliary care.

“And we’ll require all providers – public, private or charitable – to adhere to strict criteria on ethical standards.”

Responding to McDonnell’s announcement, Dr Mary-Ann Stephenson, director of the Women’s Budget Group, said: ‘We welcome plans for a national care service, free at the point of need.

“Successive governments’ failure to fund, and plan for, rising care needs adequately has pushed adult social care to breaking point.

“It is now estimated that approximately 1.4m people have unmet care needs, a shocking increase of 48 per cent since 2010.

“Women bear the brunt of the care crisis, as the majority of those needing care and the majority of those providing it, both paid and unpaid.

“We also welcome the commitment to ending zero hours contracts, ensuring carers are paid for travel time, ending 15-minute appointments and improving training and development for care staff,” she continued.

“This will improve conditions for the care workforce and the quality of care they are able to give. Supporting local authorities to directly provide care will help tackle the chaos of the privatised care system.”

To read Labour’s new report ‘Universal Basic Services: The Right to a Good Life’, click here.

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