Govt must take care on Care and Support proposals


Today there are hundreds of thousands of disabled and older people who are not getting the social care support they need to live their lives with dignity and independence. What is more, carers up and down the country are not receiving the recognition or rewards they so thoroughly deserve.

The need for a Care and Support Bill has been long overdue. So I am glad the Coalition has put forward proposals that many of us on the Labour benches have been calling for. Over 150 constituents have also got in touch with me in support of the principle but at the same time, their letters, emails and postcards have been asking for assurances that the Bill will be properly funded.

This is a concern I share. Since 2010, more than £1.3 billion has been cut from local budgets for older people’s social care. With such savage cuts there is a very real threat that any care support system created will be under-resourced and lead to failure.

Even then, during the intermediate period before a Bill can be passed, the challenge for people seeking care urgently is being made more difficult and expensive. The most vulnerable people in society are being forced to pay spiralling charges for care or face life feeling excluded.

Not only do we need well-funded action sooner, it is critical that the Bill recognises the needs and rights of all carers. As recognised by Carers UK, the Bill needs to make more provisions for young carers. Many young carers want to help their families, but government must enable them to experience the childhood they deserve too.

While there is urgent need, there is also responsibility to make sure what is introduced, works well. This can take time. That is why as well as writing to the Minister for Care, Norman Lamb about the above concerns. I have also urged him to work with Labour’s Shadow Health Secretary Andy Burnham.

Andy’s ‘Whole Person Care’ vision to integrate physical, mental and social care in to a single national health and care service could be key to improving care quality and tackling the financial pressures on the system.

To solve the care crisis once and for all, we must invest in a system that ensures older and disabled people with modest incomes get the support they deserve to live with dignity. The Government must listen to all voices, if we are to achieve long-lasting social reform. Issues of this significance need strong cross-party support.

Visit here for more information on the Care and Support Bill.

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Richard Burden

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I was Labour Member of Parliament for Birmingham Northfield between 1992 and 2019 and a former Shadow Transport Minister. I now chair Healthwatch in Birmingham and Solihull, and the West Midlands Board of Remembering Srebrenica. I also work as a public affairs consultant. I am an effective community advocate and stakeholder alliance builder with a passion for human rights. I am a trustee of the Balfour Project charity and of Citizens Advice Birmingham, and a former Chair of Medical Aid for Palestinians.

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