Photo by Georg Arthur Pflueger on Unsplash

Johnson’s broken promise

Who should pay for social care is one of the key questions facing political parties in the run up to the UK party conference season. It is easy to forget that this question was supposed to be settled two years ago when Johnson promised

My job is to protect you or your parents or grandparents from the fear of having to sell your home to pay for the costs of care.

“And so I am announcing now on the steps of Downing Street that we will fix the crisis in social care once and for all with a clear plan we have prepared. To give every older person the dignity and security they deserve.

“That is the work that begins immediately behind that black door.

“And though I am today building a great team of men and women, I will take personal responsibility for the change I want to see.” 

My thanks to Rachael Swindon who reminded me of Johnson’s promise. Needless to say it was a lie. He still has no policy to fix the crisis. But he has a plan to make working people pay for that crisis with an increase in national insurance payments that goes against his government’s manifesto commitment at the last general election.

Labour’s crumbling promise

National insurance payments fund the inadequate state pensions that place the UK near the bottom of the league for provision in Europe. The Tories want to use them to boost funding for social care while not addressing the fundamental problem. We need a state funded National Care Service, free at the point of use, like our National Health Service to replace the present mixture of private and council provision in which private equity funds are ripping us off while siphoning off profits to offshore tax havens. This used to be Labour Party policy before moves to water it down ahead of this year’s annual conference. I reported this in June. So far Starmer has been silent, even though he supported this policy at the 2019 conference and pledged to support it during his 2020 leadership campaign.

Starmer backed the motion at Labour Party conference in 2019, based upon proposals by Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) and the Reclaiming Our Futures Alliance (ROFA).that called for a new National Independent Living Support Service (NILSS) for England that would provide a universal right to independent living that was “enshrined in law”. He reiterated his support for free social care in the Labour Party leadership campaign in 2020.

Wealth Tax or Poverty Tax?

Social care needs more funding. However it is structured social care needs to be paid for. So who pays? Incredibly, we still await a commitment from Starmer to introduce a wealth tax.

NI payments fall disproportionately on low paid workers. Rich people do not pay national insurance. They pay themselves with share options and live off the dividends. Very rich people arrange their finances to pay no tax at all. A wealth tax is the obvious answer.

A Professional Care Service

Care workers work incredibly hard to provide professional levels of care for minimum wages, often on zero hours contracts. They deserve a professional career structure with decent wages. We all want to live to a ripe old age. Many of us will need care in old age. It is in all our interests to have a fully funded, quality care service with staff on decent wages. If Labour is serious about beating the Tories they should reaffirm their support for a National Care Service funded by a wealth tax.

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