Shadow Mental Health and Social Care Minister Barbara Keeley, and Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell will use the platform of the Labour party conference to announce plans to fund residential and domiciliary care for older people.
The party’s vision for a National Care Service includes the following provisions:
- Introduce free personal care for all older people
- Address the funding gap in social care
- Support local authorities to directly provide, rather than outsource, care
- Support the care workforce better with training and resources.
Labour’s plans to introduce free personal care, at a cost estimated by the Kings Fund at around £6bn in 2020-21, will more than double the number of people receiving state-funded care. Plans include to bring forward legislation to ensure no one has to sell their home to pay for care, and to set a lifetime cap on care costs.
According to a report by Independent Age, since 2000 more than 330,000 older people have had to sell their homes to pay for care costs.
As part of the National Care Service, Labour will pledge to move towards greater public provision of social care. Local authorities will become responsible for planning, designing, delivering and evaluating care services within national frameworks. Councils will be supported to take over existing homes where they are failing or where it would benefit efficient and effective operation of the services.
McDonnell’s speech is expected to rail against “big care providers [with] highly complex corporate structures involving offshore tax havens. Sucking even more money out of the system.”
The party also plans to end the use of zero-hour contracts, introducing a living wage, including for travel time, and improve access to training and development for care staff. Funding will come through general taxation.