Labour manifesto outlines future role of care trusts

Social services departments moved a step closer to their demise
last week with the publication of the Labour Party’s election
manifesto, just days after the passing of the Health and Social
Care Bill confirmed the introduction of voluntary care trusts.

The 44-page manifesto makes only one direct reference to social
services – and even that is in the context of health care. It
states: “By 2004 all local health care will be organised by primary
care trusts run by frontline doctors and nurses.

“Together with the new care trusts, combining health and social
services, PCTs will control 75 per cent of NHS funding.”

Social workers, unlike their colleagues in other public sector
professions, fail to make Labour’s list of frontline staff whose
powers and numbers need to be boosted.

Association of Directors of Social Services president Moira Gibb
welcomed the manifesto’s focus on improving public services but
added: “I hope that the tone of the campaign will be one which
makes public servants think they are part of the solution and not
part of the problem. I hope too there will be recognition that the
NHS is more than doctors and nurses. Then the contribution of
social services and social work might feature.”

The manifesto does commit the Labour Party to tax cuts for
families and pensioners, 1,000 more adoptions a year, an extension
of the direct payments scheme and Sure Start and New Deal
initiatives, plus improved benefits and social care services for
carers, and free nursing care – but not personal care – in all care

In a second term, Labour would roll-out the local performance
service agreements scheme, currently being piloted. This entitles
all upper-tier local authorities to commit to achieving tough
targets in return for access to a £400 million reward fund and
financial flexibility.

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