Labour passes policy on NHS, social care, public services, LGBT+ rights

Elliot Chappell

Delegates at the Labour Party annual conference in Brighton have passed a batch of policy motions today on the right to food, social care, public services, mental health, the NHS and LGBT+ rights.

Right to food, composite motion seven, championed enshrining a right to food in law and calling on the Labour Party to “embed a right to food policy in its next general election manifesto”. It passed by a show of hands and received strong support, with the chair asking: “Is anyone against?”.

Composite motion eight, the NHS, also passed after a show of hands from delegates. It demands that Labour, among other things, campaign for a halt to the roll out of integrated care systems and for the introduction of legislation for a “universal, comprehensive and publicly provided NHS”.

Delegates considered two social care motions today. Social care one, put forward by trade unions GMB and UNISON, called on the party to establish a national care service, insource care services and remove profit from the system, implement national standards on terms and conditions negotiated with trade unions and ensure workers are paid £15 per hour. Delegates backed the motion this afternoon.

Social care two called on Labour to improve pay, terms and conditions for social care staff, prioritise ‘home first’, support a right to independent living, improve support for unpaid carers, scrap the minimum minutes call time and end the need for people to sell their homes to pay for care. This social care motion also passed.

Composite motion 11, public services, passed by a show of hands. It called on the party to “fight for public services free from profit, funded through general taxation” and build a campaign to stop and reverse local government cuts, ensure “decent pay for those who keep our communities going” and campaign for “real pay rises for all public service workers”.

Mental health in the workplace composite motion 12 was also waved through by delegates. It committed Labour to a strengthening of the Equality Act, introducing mandatory disability pay gap reporting, repealing anti-trade union laws and developing a statutory mental health at work plan.

LGBT+ rights composite motion 13 received the backing of conference, resolving that the party to recognise the “obstacles and growing violence LGBT+ people face”, put forward “tangible actions” in terms of education and health care policy, make conversion therapy illegal and assert trans people’s same right for self-determination.

Below is the full text of the motions voted on by conference this afternoon.

Composite seven – right to food

This conference congratulates Liverpool City Council for unanimously passing a motion to become the UK’s first ‘Right to Food’ city.

Conference notes the crisis of food poverty borne out of the political choices and systemic failings created over the past four decades.

The Trussell Trust reports a soaring 81% increase in emergency food parcels from food banks in its network. Conference notes the growing concern amongst our health and care professionals of the current situation and the exacerbation of poverty figures through the impact of the Covid19 pandemic and economic uncertainty.

The National Food Strategy is the first independent review of England’s entire food system for 75 years. Its purpose is to set out a vision for the kind of food system we should be building for the future, and a plan for how to achieve that vision.

The Right To Food campaign is arguing that the 11 million people in food poverty should be central to this strategy. Enshrining the ‘Right To Food’ into law would clarify Government obligations on food poverty and would introduce legal avenues to hold Government bodies accountable for violations.

This conference believes that access to food should be a legal right in the UK, and that this government should be legally responsible for ensuring its citizens do not go hungry. We call on the Labour Party to embed a right to food policy in its next general election manifesto.

Liverpool Walton CLP
Wallasey CLP


Composite motion eight – the NHS

Covid-19 has shown public service workers at their best and the Tory government at its worst. Eleven years of austerity means inequality was on the rise when lockdowns started and has compounded the pandemic’s impact.

Only a Labour government will be ambitious enough to tackle the country’s public health challenges and inequality together. It must prioritise:

  • Mental health services
  • Health services for trans and non-binary people.
  • Ending new cases of HIV by 2030 This Party recognises the urgency of establishing a democratically accountable health and care service free to all at the point of use and funded by progressive taxation.

Conference notes:

  • While Covid-19 can affect anyone, it disproportionately impacts those worst affected by health inequalities such as the victims of sexism, racism, ableism, homophobia, biphobia and transphobia.
  • 11 years of Conservative Government have left NHS waiting lists at the highest on record.
  • The NHS in England is rapidly being reorganised into 42 regional Integrated Care Systems (ICSs).
  • ICSs claim to be integrated partnerships between the NHS, local authorities and others, including the independent sector, but the plans side-line local authorities, threatening the future integrity of social care and reducing local accountability. These will strengthen the role of private companies, including US health insurance corporations, in the NHS.
  • Tory Government proposals to establish unaccountable, statutory Integrated Care Systems (ICS) boards with binding plans. The ICSs will mean more private contracts; lower standards through professional deregulation, downskilling and more outsourcing of NHS jobs; reduced and rationed services (partially replaced by ‘digital’ options and volunteers); and significant spending cuts.
  • The Tories have failed the LGBT+ community:
    • Coming out- , hatred and shame mean LGBT+ people are more likely to present with mental health issues; most are preventable and all should be supported.
    • For trans and non-binary people prolonged periods of lockdown have caused trauma for those who cannot be their true self at home. The backlog of existing services is a scandal and new services promised by the government are not forthcoming.

Conference demands:

  • That the Party will pursue the introduction of legislation to bring about a universal, comprehensive and publicly provided NHS, fit for the 21st century.
  • That the Party will also seek to ensure that: commissioning arrangements for social care prioritise and encourage public provision of services.
  • To actively alert local councillors and MPs to the threat posed by Integrated Care Systems and the dramatic loss of local accountability.
  • To use all means to actively oppose the ICSs including that the shadow health team and the Parliamentary Labour Party will vigorously oppose the establishment of ICSs and their roll-out in England.
  • That the Parliamentary Labour Party call for an immediate halt to the roll-out of ICS.
  • To work closely with the Trade Union movement to progress our joint opposition to the introduction of Integrated Care Services as defined by NHS England.
  • To oppose the destructive effects of the 2012 Health and Social Care Act and to bring about universal, comprehensive, publicly provided and closely coordinated NHS and social care services.
  • To oppose a new Bill that would remove the legal duty of NHS commissioners to provide hospital medical services, would put private providers in the driving seat of our health service, and reward reduced service provision & lower pay.
  • To promote greater collaboration with the Labour Parties in the devolved nations, in order to learn from their experiences in continuing to promote a public service NHS in their jurisdictions.

Conference must prioritise:

  • Only an opt-out approach to testing in the NHS and the scaling up of at-home testing will mean HIV diagnoses in the UK become a thing of the past.
  • The pay and conditions of staff across health and care with an emphasis on fair and equal pay, training, skills development, and career progression.
  • Conference demands that the NHS remains the most cost-efficient health service in the developed world, largely because it’s still mostly publicly provided by directly employed staff, and not by private providers. Sutton and Cheam CLP Socialist Health Association.

Composite motion nine – social care one

Conference notes the ongoing crisis in social care – a chronically underfunded service, with too many care workers paid less than the living wage, despite their vital work.

Conference recognises that the pandemic has exposed the scale of exploitation in the care sector, and believes urgent reforms are needed if the social care ‘crisis within a crisis’ is to be addressed.

Conference condemns the chronic low pay and degraded terms and conditions in care, noting that:

  • There are approximately 110,000 social care vacancies in England alone
  • The average hourly rate for privately-employed care workers was £8.50 in 2019/20 o A third of direct care workers were employed on zero hours contracts (rising to more than half in London)
  • Research funded by the DHSC found a strong link between inadequate sick pay and higher infection rates in care homes
  • Violations of minimum wage regulations are common

Conference further notes that exploitative working practices disproportionately affect older women and Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic workers.

Conference recognises that radical reform is needed if we are to care for an aging population, with surveys finding that four-fifths of care workers feel undervalued by their management or employer, and three quarters of care workers say their mental health has worsened during the pandemic.

Conference believes that reforming and fixing our broken social care system should be a priority for a future Labour government. Just as Labour had the vision and foresight to create the NHS, we must be the party of a transformed, world class social care sector, delivered by a National Care Service.

Conference further believes that this pioneering service must have at its heart a workforce strategy which gives social care workers an equivalent status to those working in healthcare, and a decent wage for all care workers.

Conference therefore resolves to establish a National Care Service, that will:

  • end the postcode lottery on standards in both service delivery and treatment of the workforce;
  • guarantee the necessary public funding, delivers a world class system of care and support so that as with the NHS, receiving high-quality care does not come down to the financial means of the recipients of the service;
  • extend the insourcing of care services through public procurement, remove profit from our social care system, and delivered locally – provision of social care must never again treat the demands of shareholders as more important than the needs of care users; 19
  • implement national standards on terms and conditions, negotiated with social care trade unions;
  • ensure care workers are paid at least in line with average wages (now £15 an hour), with clear routes for training and progression.

UNISON
GMB


Composite motion ten – social care two

Conference notes 11 years of Tory government have failed to put forward plans for social care reform. Since the Prime Minister said he had a plan to fix the crisis in social care, 2 million people have applied for support, but have been refused.

This pandemic has shown – more than ever – that frontline carers are essential to a properly functioning society and economy, yet two thirds don’t earn the real living wage of £10 an hour and a quarter are on zero hours contracts.

Many middle and low-income earners become part of a lottery if they get ill when they are older. This means for many a lifetime of work tied up in their homes is lost, as the family home has to be sold to pay for any residential nursing care. For our society to flourish and thrive people should be supported to live their best possible lives (The Care Act 2014).

Annual Conference 2019 committed to ending the current postcode lottery in Social Care funding and the hardship that this causes in reducing life expectancy and health outcomes. This National Care Service can ensure high standards of care, supportive and responsive to service users and their families, by ensuring workers have pay, terms and conditions as good as those of directly employed NHS workers (including decent sick pay for all). Responsibility for funding social care should rest with the national exchequer, with funds distributed to local authorities on the basis of population served (age, deprivation, etc) and the cost of care.

Conference believes:

  • That the profound crises in Adult Social Care can be tackled effectively only by ending decades of underfunding, fragmentation, privatisation and casualised employment
  • It’s time for a new deal for care workers. As a starting point, all care workers should be paid at least a real living wage.
  • Our ambition for social care should be as far reaching as Bevan’s formation of the NHS and cost should not be a barrier to high quality care 20
  • Where informal care is being provided (currently by an estimated 13.6 million people) there needs to be legislation to enable and require employers to give carers the rights, support and flexibility they need without sacrificing their careers and financial security.

We call on the Labour Party to work with carers and unpaid carers, the frontbench, our relevant affiliated unions, Labour councillors, other stakeholders, service users and health and social campaigners to build a powerful campaign for a National Care Service that:

  • Sets out an overall vision for social care that is needs based and publicly funded, and promotes dignity and security for those who receive care.
  • Improves pay, terms and conditions for our social care staff and provides proper training and career progression, negotiated with social care trade unions.
  • Prioritise ‘home first’ so that those who need care can receive it in the place they call home
  • Supports a universal right to independent living o Improves support for unpaid carers, who are often women, including increased rights, flexibility and financial security including payment for their labour
  • Scraps the minimum minutes call time and replace this with a system which reflects the needs of the user not a set time limit per visit. o Ends the compulsion for people to sell their homes to pay for social care
  • Ensures those in need of additional care and support should have access to a nationally funded, locally delivered, co-produced, free service to enable them to do this.

Blaydon CLP
Bristol West CLP


Composite 11 – public services

Conference notes Labour’s proud record as the party of public services. From the NHS to Sure Start, it is the Labour Party and the Labour movement that delivers for our communities in government. Conference further notes that public services have been battered by a decade of Tory austerity and privatisation, with local government under particular attack.

Health and economic outcomes have suffered before and during the Covid-19 pandemic as a result. Conference believes that the pandemic has shown that our public services need a transformative and radical Labour government now more than ever.

Conference resolves that the Labour Party will:

  • Fight for public services free from profit, funded through general taxation
  • with any increase falling on those 21 with the broadest shoulders – and brought back – in house’.
  • Build a campaign with trade unions, community and tenant organisations, service users and Labour councillors to fight for the funding necessary to not only stop, but reverse local government cuts.
  • Place renewed pressure on the government to honour its commitment to fully fund councils and the NHS for the costs of dealing with the pandemic and lost revenue resulting from lockdowns.
  • Ensure that in government, Labour delivers for public service workers, ensuring decent pay for those who keep our communities going. Until then, Labour will campaign for real pay rises for 80 all public service workers, including calling on the LGA to increase its current pay offer and encourage Labour councillors to support an increase.

Unison
Unite


Composite 12 – mental health in the workplace

Conference understands that while anyone can experience a mental health problem, some people are more vulnerable because of their economic and social position and the work they do.

Conference recognises work and the workplace as a cause of, and contributor to, mental distress. Low-paid, insecure work and poor working practices put workers at increased risk of mental health problems. These factors, combined with the experience of workers throughout the pandemic, have led to a steep increase in individuals seeking support from their employer and mental health services.

Conference is concerned by the persistent low levels of awareness of disabled workers’ rights under the Equality Act and the barriers people face accessing reasonable adjustments and support at work that are key to remaining in, and progressing in employment.

Conference is clear that strengthening collective bargaining rights is crucial to better terms and conditions and better support for mental health at work. Trade unions and union reps play a vital role in negotiating and promoting good policy, tackling stigma, enforcing rights at work and transforming workplace culture.

Conference calls on the Labour Party to commit to:

  • Strengthening the Equality Act and improving enforcement mechanisms paying particular attention to the right to reasonable adjustments.
  • Introducing mandatory disability pay gap reporting.
  • Repealing anti-trade union laws and strengthening collective bargaining rights.
  • Supporting employers by developing a statutory mental health at work plan to include core standards around training, awareness raising and decent work.

Union of Shop, Distributive & Allied Workers
Unison


Composite 13 – LGBT+ rights

Our history as a party has always been anti-bigotry in all its forms, and we know the value of minority groups in strengthening our country’s social fabric. It is vital that we take a firm stance and stay true to these roots in both our internal and external policies, in order to build a better future for everyone, with Labour, together.

Conference notes:

  • Statistically, LGBT+ people are experiencing higher levels of persecution within society on a systematic and routine basis. Transgender people face substantial barriers and experience high levels of exclusion and violence through persistent transphobia.
  • Intersex people experience erasure and harm through anti LGBT+ violence. Many LGBT+ people are unable to receive appropriate and timely health care services.
  • Likewise, LGBT+ people have been disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Conversion therapy refers to any form of treatment or psychotherapy which aims to reduce or stop same-sex attraction or to suppress a person’s gender identity based on the premise that being: Lesbian, Gay, Bi or Trans is a mental illness that can be ‘Cured’.
  • In the UK, all major counselling and psychotherapy bodies as well as the NHS, have concluded that conversion therapy is dangerous and harmful; and have condemned it by signing a Memorandum of Understanding.

Conferences believes:

  • Supporting LGBT+ people, specifically transgender and intersex people, ensures the liberation of all. The limited protections afforded to the LGBT+ community are persistently under threat.
  • Campaigning to protect and improve healthcare access to all trans people is vital; including expanding Gender Identity Clinic services (many of which currently have waitlists for medical treatment exceeding five years), safeguarding trans youths’ access to safe and recommended interventions by the medical community, and protecting free birth control for trans men and non-binary people.
  • Conversion therapies are both unethical and harmful; and also promote hateful values in society that homosexuality/bisexuality and being transgender is an illness.
  • That these – therapies- are damaging with no qualified scientific support.
  • That the use of conversion therapy on persons under the age of 18 is a form of child abuse.

Conference resolves that the Labour Party must:

  • Recognise the obstacles and growing violence LGBT+ people face within society.
  • Put forward solid and tangible actions in terms of education and health care policy.
  • Adopt policy to make Conversion Therapy illegal and its use on people under the age of 18 classified as a form of child abuse, punishable by law.
  • Assert trans people’s same right for self-determination as anyone else, and fight for measures to improve protections and services.
  • This should include safeguarding equal access to domestic abuse/rape support and shelters, with particular improvement needed for trans women and ensuring that steps to prevent violence against women includes all women. Noone should be barred or limited from accessing support services for being trans or nonbinary.

Pendle CLP
Penrith and the Border CLP

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