The Labour Party has confirmed plans to introduce free personal care and a National Care Service if it wins the December 12 General Election.
As previously reported, the party has pledged to ensure that older people have their personal care needs met, with the ambition to extend this provision to all working-age adults.
Labour said in its manifesto, described by leader Jeremy Corbyn as “the most radical, people-focused plan in modern times”, that this will enable it to more than double the number of people receiving publicly funded care packages, improve the standard of care provided to them and remove the distinction between health and care needs.
“We will ensure no one ever again needs to face catastrophic care costs of more than £100,000 for the care they need in old age, which we will underscore with a lifetime cap on personal contributions to care costs,” the manifesto states.
Labour has also promised to invest in additional care packages to “reverse the damage done by Conservative cuts” and provide support to both older people and working-age adults living independently in their own homes.
The party said this will mean it can support autistic people and people living with a learning disability to move out from inappropriate inpatient hospital settings and provide support in their own homes.
Its £6bn National Care Service will work in partnership with the NHS, the party said, ensuring care is delivered “for people, not for profit”.
Labour added that contracts for providing care will not be awarded to organisations that “do not pay their fair share of taxes” and do not meet “our high standards of quality care”.
“Our focus will be on the ethical delivery of care that ensures growing public sector provision and providers who meet standards of transparency, compliance and profit capping,” the manifesto states.
The party added that it will invest to end 15-minute care visits and provide care workers with paid travel time, access to training and the option to choose regular hours.
It has also promised to develop a planned model of joined-up community care, enabling people to live longer lives in better health in their own homes.
Commenting on the manifesto, Jane Townson, CEO of United Kingdom Homecare Association, said: “We are encouraged that social care is registering as a priority election issue in the manifestos of the main parties.
“The Labour manifesto highlights the importance of care and support at home. It promises investment in social care and health, but with a strong preference for bringing public services back under direct public sector control. The commitment to introduce free personal care in England will be costly. A government introducing such a policy would need to be sure that it has anticipated costs and future demand as accurately as possible.”
Steven Cameron, pensions Director at Aegon said: “Social care funding, one of our society’s greatest challenges, should rightly be at the heart of all party manifestos. Labour’s manifesto commitment to free personal care across England will be welcomed by many, and needs to be put on a stable financial footing as increased life expectancies coupled with the rising costs of providing care mean this is an issue that will just keep getting bigger.
“Labour’s commitment to a lifetime cap on how much any individual will need to pay towards care costs is very welcome. It should bring to an end the prospect of those requiring longer periods of care facing catastrophic care costs and once details are developed will allow people to plan ahead and protect inheritance aspirations.”