It’s Time For A National Care Service, and Only Labour Will Offer It

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Social Care in Britain is in crisis. After 9 years of Conservative and Liberal Democrat cuts many elderly people simply cannot manage.

 A study by Age UK found that government spending on social care has gone down by 8 percent in real terms since 2010 whilst the demand for quality care has only risen. The most recent data published by the NHS shows that every day 5000 elderly people are asking their council for help with basic tasks like walking up the stairs. The effects of these politically motivated decisions are now plainly apparent with 1.4 million people not receiving the care they need. There have been numerous reports of people having to wear incontinence pads because they are unable to get out of bed and use the bathroom. Many of our old people are now surviving off the charity of their neighbours and the care of their children. 

This issue, in the immediate future at least, is not hard to solve: the government should invest more money into social care. The government claims to have increased investment over the last three years but it has only been marginal and has evidently not begun to solve any of these issues. However, whilst a new administration raising investment into social care would alleviate these problems it would only be a short term solution. New Labour’s record investments into public services were almost completely reversed by the coalition government in only a few months. 

This is why Labours proposal for a genuinely National Care Service, free at the point of use for all citizens, funded through general taxation is so important. There is a reason the NHS, an institution 70 years old has survived countless hostile Tory governments whilst most New Labour initiatives, like EMA and Shore Start didn’t survive one. Unlike Blair and Brown, Corbyn and McDonnell are looking to fundamentally alter the power structures of our society instead of working within them, with the National Care Service being one part of a much larger programme. Unlike the Brexiteers Labours leadership are actually sincere in their aim to “take back control” for ordinary people. If successful they will tie the hand of future governments the same way Labour did after World War 2. 

I am not claiming The National Care Service is a perfect policy. Writing in the guardian Frances Ryan made the point that Social Care is something needed by disabled people as well as the elderly. A third of care recipients are disabled people of working age and to exclude them from a new service would of course be ridiculous. She also argues that care should go further than just helping people “go to the toilet” it should help elderly and disabled people get the most out of life with a rewarding career and access to their community. This is something that needs to be properly addressed by Labour in the future and I have little doubt that it will. 

The many problems facing the UK that were ignored by New Labour and made worse by the Conservative and Liberal Democrats are not going to be solved easily but at the moment Corbyn’s Labour are the only ones willing to try. 

Image Credit: Labour List