‘Little detail and no timetable’: Care sector reacts to Labour manifesto

With Labour today (Thursday, 13 June) releasing its election manifesto, exactly three weeks away from the 4 July election date, the care sector has responded to Keir Starmer’s promises for social care.

Keir Starmer, Labour leader

The Independent Care Group (ICG) has warned that the promises lack detail and an urgent timetable for delivery. The organisation also said Labour could have been bolder in its reforms and made social care a higher priority.

ICG chair Mike Padgham said: “It is refreshing to see promises in writing from Labour on the reform of social care that we have been calling for over the past three decades.

“That excitement has to be tempered by the fact that the reforms are very much broad promises, with little detail and no timetable for delivery.

Independent Care Group chair Mike Padgham
Independent Care Group chair Mike Padgham

“Social care is in crisis now and we would like to see that these reforms will start on day one if Labour is elected. We have heard promises like these before and the challenge now is to see them delivered.

“And we must ensure that funding is properly addressed. Many of the reforms and improvements outlined will need investment. If, for example, Labour promises an increase in care workers’ pay then it has to be accompanied by a promise that local authorities – who commission the bulk of care from providers – will have the funding needed to ensure they pay a rate that enables providers to meet any new pay rate.

“Many, particularly smaller providers, are struggling to meet the latest increase in the national living wage and national minimum wage and without more funding will not be able to meet further rises.”

Suhail Mirza, Newcross Healthcare non-executive director

Meanwhile, Newcross Healthcare non-executive director Suhail Mirza said: “On social care, Labour has set out a plan to create a National Care Service; whilst this is a more expansive view than the Conservative comment on social care it remains a laggard compared to the broader vision and funding set out by the Liberal Democrats.”

Vic Rayner, CEO, National Care Forum

Vic Rayner, CEO of the National Care Forum (NCF), commented: “Labour’s vision for a National Care Service and Fair Pay Agreements are core ambitions for a future government. They provide a central framing for reform which, if implemented, could place the needs of people who need care and support, the care workforce and the wider sector at the heart of communities.

“However, there is real concern that the urgency for reform is not picked up in this manifesto. An incoming Labour government should be under no illusion that this is an agenda for the here and now, not for a future parliament.

“The Labour leader has made much of his desire to serve others in his pitch to the country about why he should be PM. Everyday millions of carers, paid and unpaid, embody the concept of service in the crucial work they carry out. Care and support is a powerful tool which supports people back into work, prevents illness and sickness, promotes independence and empowers people to engage fully with their communities and wider society. All of this helps tackle socio-economic inequalities and drive sustainable, and fair,
economic growth.

“Labour has hinted at their vision, but we now need it to come into the light with clear details around implementation and resourcing. This must also recognise the vital role that unpaid carers play.

“If Labour really wants change, we need urgent action to create not just a National Care Service, but in reality, a National Core Service. We call on Labour to think social care first because great social care enables people to live the lives that they wish and must be at the heart of any government focused on growth and prosperity for all.”

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