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Social Care

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 4:14 pm on 25th February 2020.

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Photo of Barbara Keeley Barbara Keeley Shadow Minister (Mental Health and Social Care) 4:14 pm, 25th February 2020

I very much agree. We need to pay care staff the real living wage, provide them with training and end the use of zero-hours contracts.

I think it is clear enough that the Labour party believes that the current system is not working, and I am sure that the Secretary of State knows it too. Councils just do not have the funding required to deliver the care that people need, and they are faced with a stark choice—either they cut back on the quality of care, or even fewer people receive any help at all. Only a third of directors of adult social services think that their budget will be enough to meet their statutory duties this year, which means that thousands of people who approach their local authority for help with their care are turned down for support. Without investment and a plan, social care services will be pushed deeper and deeper into crisis. Expert report after expert report has pointed to social care being on the verge of collapse, and those reports make it clear that councils cannot deliver adequate adult social care provision without a sustainable, long-term funding strategy. Yet what we have seen from the Government, year after year, is short-term and piecemeal funding.

The Secretary of State may repeat, as his colleagues did yesterday, that the Government are allowing councils to raise council tax this year to fund social care services, but the Opposition know that council tax is a deeply unfair way to fund this vital public service. A 2% rise in council tax rates in Wokingham will raise twice as much money as it would in Knowsley. Even if we raised council tax by 2% every year, the Institute for Fiscal Studies says that by the end of the decade social care will make up over half of all local government spending. This means that other vital services will continue to be cut back. That is certainly the situation I see in my own local authority area.