Starmer sets out alternative to Tory social care reforms in LGA Labour speech

Sienna Rodgers
© UK Parliament/Jessica Taylor

Keir Starmer is using a speech to the Local Government Association Labour Leaders’ Summit today to set out an alternative to the social reforms announced by the Conservative government this week.

The opposition party voted against Boris Johnson’s new health and social care levy in the House of Commons, a 1.25 percentage point rise in National Insurance Contributions, calling it “unfair” and “a tax on jobs”.

The Labour leader came under pressure to clarify what reforms his party would implement instead and how they would be funded. He said Labour would prefer to tax income gained from the assets of “those with the broadest shoulders”.

Starmer is now opting to reveal more details of Labour’s alternative, saying he would aim not just to “fix the crisis in social care” but to “ensure all older and disabled people get the support they need to live the life they choose”.

In an LGA Labour speech, he will say: “We would: transform access to care making sure every older and disabled person who needs support get it where they need it; enshrine a principle of ‘Home First’ care and shift the focus to prevention and early intervention; champion independent and fulfilling lives for working age adults with disabilities – so people have choice and control over the support they get, and their views drive change in the system; deliver a New Deal for care workers.

“We can’t deliver good social care without the workforce to match; and we would ensure partnership with families – ensuring unpaid carers get the support they need. But it’s disappointing we don’t have a government willing to show the same ambition.

“Instead, we’ve got a rushed out, half-baked mess that: won’t give social care the resources needed; won’t actually reform social care; won’t create more and better paid jobs; isn’t fair across the regions or generations; and won’t stop people selling off their homes to fund care.

“No wonder the whole thing is unravelling. No wonder the Prime Minister is trying to rush it through parliament in a single day. And that’s why Labour will continue to fight against it.”

On funding, Starmer will add: “The government act like there was no alternative but there clearly was. The money could have been raised by taxing the incomes of landlords, and those who buy and sell large quantities of financial assets, stocks and shares.”

He is set to criticise the Tory plan for leaving “working people” to foot the bill, especially “low earners and young people who have already borne the brunt of the economic impact of the pandemic”.

Of the new levy, he will say: “It leaves a private landlord renting out multiple properties not paying a penny more in tax, and their hard-working tenants to pick up the burden, it sees an Amazon worker’s taxes raised, but Amazon itself able to squirrel profits away in tax havens and only pay a fraction of what high street shops do, and it means our care workers aren’t given a pay rise but are expected to pay more in tax.”

Since the new levy was announced, Labour has taken a poll lead over the Conservatives for the first time since January, according to YouGov, with the Tories seeing a five-point drop in support to 33% and Labour up one point to 35%.

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