Ed Miliband today called for talks with David Cameron on care funding reform following next month’s Dilnot commission report, to avoid a repeat of last year’s pre-election hostility on the issue.
The Labour leader made the call in a press conference today, in which he also repeated calls from his party for an independent investigation into the Winterbourne View case and for financial regulation of social care providers to be considered, in the light of the Southern Cross case.
With the Dilnot commission due to produce recommendations on care funding reform in early July, Miliband said: “Every serious attempt to solve this pressing challenge has foundered, often on the failure to find a political consensus.”
He referred to pre-election Tory accusations that Labour planned to bring in a “death tax” to fund care, which led to the break-up of cross-party talks on the issue last year.
“I want to make a serious offer to David Cameron today,” said Miliband. “Let’s engage in cross-party talks around the Dilnot commission’s recommendations to deliver the care system we need. We will come to those talks with an open mind about the best way forward, not simply advocating what we have proposed in the past.”
He also challenged ministers to call an independent review into the Winterbourne View case “straight away”. Referring to an internal review by the Care Quality Commission into its failings in the case and to the serious case review called by South Gloucestershire Safeguarding Adults Boards, he said: “The government appears to believe that reviews by the Care Quality Commission and by South Gloucestershire Council are enough. It is not, because these bodies were involved in the failure itself.”
Ministers say the fact that the SCR will be independently chaired is sufficient.
On Southern Cross, Miliband added: “Currently regulation looks at the quality of care provided. The government must now also look at whether the regulation of this sector should be extended to cover the financial stability of organisations which provide these vital services for hundreds of thousands of elderly people.
“The government owes it to taxpayers, and they owe it to vulnerable people in these homes, and they owe it to their families. We cannot let Southern Cross happen again.”
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