Life-size cardboard cut-outs were used as stand-ins for the three main party leaders after they failed to attend a major conference on social care.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and Liberal Democrats leader Jo Swinson were all invited to Wednesday’s Independent Care Group (ICG) conference in York.
Commenting on the party leaders’ no-show, ICG chair, Mike Padgham, said: “I think ladies and gentlemen, that might demonstrate to us how highly they place social care as we head to the polls for the third time in five years.”
The ICG has published its own social care manifesto calling for better funding for social care through taxation or National Insurance and for social care and the NHS to be merged and managed centrally or locally.
The manifesto suggests a fixed a percentage of GDP should be spent on social care and that dementia should be regarded as a health issue.
It also calls for a cap on social care costs, including ‘hotel’ style service charges, and that people should be encouraged to save for their own care.
The manifesto states that the minimum wage for social care workers should be set above the National Living Wage.
On top of this, the ICG proposes minimum, agreed care fee levels and that social care businesses should be zero-rated for VAT so that they claim it back, and calls for the CQC to be given much greater powers in overseeing commissioning.
Padgham added: “This General Election has to be the catalyst for saving social care – we might not have another opportunity for a long, long time. Today is a rallying call. It is about sending a very clear message to politicians that social care is in crisis. It is about telling them that this cannot go on any longer. 1.5m people not getting the care they need. Providers failing.
“We appeal to politicians to make social care their number one domestic priority – not just on the hustings, but after the election has been and gone and we have to get on with the job of rebuilding care. Yes, let’s get Brexit done, but let’s get social care done too! This is our time… this is the hour!”