Social care has long been the poor relation of the NHS. Ever
since the publication of the Wanless report on healthcare funding,
Liberal Democrats have called for a similar review of social care
funding. We welcome the recently announced King’s Fund-sponsored
Wanless review, and if elected would take account of his
Labour broke its promise to end the charges for personal care.
We would implement the recommendation of the Sutherland Commission
that basic care should be free. Unlike the Conservative plans, this
will be free care for all, not only for those who can afford to pay
insurance and need care for longer than three years.
We will seek to break down barriers between health and social
care. Our plans to integrate the commissioning of social care and
health within local government will allow the flow of funding from
the NHS to social care to provide more preventive services.
To give service users control over their care, we support direct
payments. We would encourage take-up through local action plans and
greater support for service users, such as help with financial
Labour’s approach to the regulation of social care is cavalier.
It set up the National Care Standards Commission only to scrap it
days later and replace it with the Commission for Social Care
Inspection, which is now to be merged with the Healthcare
Instability in the way the sector is regulated puts standards
and public protection at risk. There must be no loss of focus on
front-line care during the transition, and in the new inspectorate
the social model must not be subordinated to the medical one.
We will expect local authorities to have a carers’ strategy,
covering respite care, access to advocacy, and the needs of young
carers. We will extend workplace protection legislation to home
workers, many of whom are carers, and give more personalised help
to jobseekers with caring responsibilities.
The Liberal Democrats will never neglect the social care side of
Paul Burstow is the Liberal Democrat health