Lyn Brown

Member of Parliament for West Ham

We need action on our care system - Feb 2015

Regular readers will know we lost dad just before Christmas. After losing mum, dad found things very hard and, as his illness progressed, we needed to bring in additional support to help to care for him.

The standard of that care was widely variable and, as dad’s needs intensified, the care was not always of a quality that helped keep him safe, or maintained his dignity. A civilised society looks after the elderly and vulnerable. We have a responsibility to make sure that those in need of care, and their carers, get the support they merit. That just isn’t happening.

The past five years have seen a 40 per cent reduction in government funding for social care services. Local councillors do their best to protect the most vulnerable, but it’s an impossible task.

My name was drawn to question David Cameron at last week’s Prime Minister’s Questions. I asked him how he justified cutting taxes for millionaires, whilst cutting care budgets by £3.5 billion, since 2010. He promised more money, but not enough to do the job. He simply has no plan to overcome the crisis. Consequently, we have a poorly paid, poorly trained workforce and a system close to collapse. Some elderly people receive care visits restricted to just 15 minutes. We’re getting older, as a population, and the demand for social care services is rising.

This uncaring government only compounds the problem. In addition to the £3.5 billion cut from social care services, 60,000 carers have been penalised by the Bedroom Tax. Thousands more are hit by the welfare benefits cap.

Labour has a plan that will work. We will bring services together, so we can give people a personal care plan and a single point of contact. We will recruit, train and pay new staff through a “Time to Care” fund, hiring 5,000 care-workers, by raising extra money from tobacco firms and cracking down on tax avoidance by hedge funds.

We believe everyone should be enabled to grow old with dignity.

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