Labour outlines alternative to the government’s social care plan

Elliot Chappell
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Care, and how we do it, remains at the forefront of politics. Keir Starmer and his frontbench have highlighted a number of problems with the ‘plan’ for care set out by Boris Johnson last week. But the Labour leader used a speech to the Local Government Association on Saturday to offer some sense of an alternative from his party. He told those watching that Labour would ensure everyone has access to care, enshrine a principle of ‘home first’ in the sector, “champion independent and fulfilling lives for working age adults with disabilities” and deliver a new deal for care workers. He said his party would prefer to tax income gained from the assets, arguing the funding needed can be raised by taxing the incomes of landlords and those who buy and sell large quantities of financial assets, stocks and shares.

We got more detail from Jonathan Ashworth on Sunday. He used the politics shows to explain that Labour would fund social care via a community-first savings plan, as he identified four points of action. Labour would 1) “expand eligibility with a national framework”, with more people accessing care in their homes and thereby saving money; 2) raise standards for care workers, ensuring they are paid the real living wage, scrapping zero-hours contracts and investing in training; 3) provide “proper respite support” for the many carers who do not currently get any support; and 4) the party would develop a “plan for adults with disabilities”. The Shadow Health Secretary highlighted that think tank IPPR has said a home-first approach could generate £2.5bn in savings. He has also written to Sajid Javid over the weekend, warning that allowing those who self-fund their care to arrange this through their local authority has the potential to be financially disastrous for both care home providers and local authorities.

TUC Congress 2021 began yesterday. The annual gathering is taking place virtually this week, for the second year running. Frances O’Grady has written for LabourList on the role that unions reps, members and officers have played over the past 18 months. The general secretary will address congress at 11am. She is expected to warn that the UK must be better prepared for economic shocks and demand that Johnson deliver on his promise to ‘level up’ Britain: “If levelling up means anything, it must mean levelling up at work and levelling up living standards. Covid must be a catalyst for real change.”

Sharon Graham will also be speaking to congress this afternoon. The newly-elected Unite general secretary will tell those watching that it is time the labour movement is “reborn” with “no more political tail wagging the industrial dog”. Reflecting her “Westminster versus the workplace” campaign message, on which she was recently elected to lead the Labour Party’s largest affiliate, she is expected to stress the need for a “fighting back trade unionism” rooted in the workplace. “No politician is coming to save us,” she will say. “No Westminster project is going to deliver pay rises for our members or defend them from bad bosses. That is our job. We need to do it ourselves.” Sign up to LabourList’s morning email for everything Labour, every weekday morning.

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