At the Labour Party conference in September, Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell vowed to introduce free personal care, providing help with daily tasks such as getting in and out of bed, bathing and washing, and preparing meals in their homes and residential care. Labour also promised it would “address the funding gap in social care”, support local authorities to directly provide, rather than outsource, care, as well as ensuring older people receive support from trained staff. Jeremy Corbyn has said: “Under the Tories, our social care sector is in a scandalous state, with one million people not getting the care they need.
“Labour will right this wrong and introduce personal care free at the point of use, extending state-funded care to hundreds of thousands more people.”
But Labour admitted its plan would require an extra £6billion in 2020/21, and an eye-watering £8billion by 2030/31 – all funded through taxation.
The move has been torn apart by political critics, with Harry Fone, grassroots campaign manager at the TaxPayers’ Alliance, telling Express.co.uk: “This policy appears to be nothing more than a way to win pensioners’ votes at a general election.
“This policy will likely be funded by higher taxation rather than by making savings and stopping wasteful spending across Government.
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“Our research has shown the social care sector could save £5.9billion a year by embracing new technology and automation.
“Social care needs huge reform – simply throwing more of taxpayers’ money at the problem won’t work.”
Mark Littlewood, director general of the Institute of Economic Affairs think tank, warned the party’s gung-ho approach to spending could destroy public services.
He said: “Funnelling more taxpayer money into the current system won’t do enough to solve the long-term funding gaps, as the UK faces demographic shifts and as the ratio of people in retirement age to people of working age rises further.
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“Pouring un-costed billions into a broken system could result in worse rationing, poorer quality public services, longer waiting times and make it more difficult to access essential services.
“Any measures to tackle these issues need to be well thought-out for the long term – pledging billions in the short term won’t make the problems disappear.”
Tim Kane, an economist and research fellow at the Hoover Institute at Stanford University, warned the “crazy policy” would saddle young families with debt, leaving Britain trailing in a global race for economic growth.
He told Express.co.uk: “You can’t just spend, spend, spend.
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“We all want to see our parents get great care and great support in their old age, but it has to be sustainable. You’d be pushing the debt onto the younger people, the people you rely on to start companies and start that growth.
“You need to incentivise the next generation to make money and grow the economy. That’s a race Britain would lose with crazy policies like this.
“It’s all very well to talk about creating utopia, but you can’t just promise a unicorn if you haven’t worked out how to get it. Corbyn, yet again, can’t do the leg work. This would never, ever work.”
David Phillips, an associate director at the Institute for Fiscal Studies, warned the cost of Labour’s plan could triple to as much as nearly £20billion.
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He said: This £6billion would not undo cuts since 2010, so poorer pensioners with moderate social care needs, who cannot now access free social care, would not benefit.
“It would also not cover the residential costs of residential care homes, thereby still leaving some vulnerable to very high costs in the last months and years of their lives.
“If you wanted to do both these things as well the costs would be two to three times higher even than the planned £6billion.
The Health Foundation, which spends around £30million each year trying to improve health care, warned while Labour’s proposals are welcome, the party would have to spend tens of billions of pounds more just stabilising the current system and restoring it back to previous levels.
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A spokesman told Express.co.uk: “Fundamental reform of the current social care system is badly needed, but the immediate priority for any Government should be stabilising the existing system to keep services running, and ensuring that the system has the funding and workforce needed to meet future demands.
“We have estimated that just stabilising the current system by addressing demand pressures and increasing staff pay in line with the NHS, would cost an additional £1billion in 2020/21, £2.1billion in 2021/22 rising to £4.4billion in 2023/24 in real terms.
“Restoring access to 2010/11 levels of service would require £8.1billion extra investment by 2023/24 on top of this (£12.5billion in total).”
Published at Fri, 08 Nov 2019 17:13:00 +0000