This Monday Emma took part in a House of Commons debate on the Government’s Care Bill, and warned that reform of the care system would fail if the current funding crisis in adult social care was not urgently addressed.
Emma told the House how cuts of nearly £2.8 billion under the Coalition had forced local authorities to withdraw essential services. In South Tyneside, local authority budgets were cut by £262 per person, despite the borough having higher than average proportions of elderly people and people with long-term conditions.
Although Labour supports some of the reforms in the Care Bill, which builds on the work of the Law Commission review into adult social care established by the previous Labour government, Labour MPs voiced their concern that Government austerity would hinder any real improvements on the ground.
“We know that the Government have legislated for fragmentation and that health funding in areas such as mine is being stripped back. We also know that if the Government wanted immediately to address the funding crisis in our social care system, they could implement Labour’s plan to use £700 million from this year’s NHS underspend. Will they do this and do right by the people who need the services the most?”
You can read Emma’s full contribution to the debate by clicking here.
Labour MPs also criticised the Bill’s measures regarding self-funding, including the ineffective cap on care costs and the limited deferred payment scheme.
The Government set the individual cap on care costs at £72,000 – more than twice the recommended level – but because of the way care costs are calculated many people will spend as much as £150,000 before they receive any help paying for their care. Six out of seven people will die before receiving any support.
The deferred payment scheme meanwhile would only apply to those who have less than £23,250 in assets (excluding their home), meaning that even those with modest savings would not qualify. The vast majority of people would still need to sell their home to pay for care – exactly what the Government promised the Bill would prevent.
Speaking after the debate, Emma said:
“How we care for the elderly and disabled is a reflection of the kind of society we want to be. I and my fellow Labour MPs want a country where we support people in old age or ill health, instead of leaving them to fend for themselves and sell their homes in order to pay for care at the end of their lives.
“There are some positive reforms in this Bill, but unless the central issues of finance are addressed the vast majority of people will not benefit. The Government can start by using funding from the NHS underspend to address the immediate crisis, but it also needs to look at fixing the cap on care costs and the deferred payment scheme. Otherwise millions of people will be swamped by the cost of care.”