The Tories lost a key skirmish to Labour today as the charity Age UK accused the Conservatives of ducking the issues of an ageing society in their manifesto.
The charity formed from Age Concern and Help the Aged said the manifesto contained little new support for older people who needed help and protection and gave it even fewer points than Labour against Age UK’s 18 key election priorities – five as opposed to Labour’s eight.
The Conservative Party did not reveal any details of its long-awaited plan to fund home care, to accompany its residential care scheme, under which people would be able to pay £8,000 and have any care home fees waived for life.
Charity director Michelle Miller said older people would be “surprised” to find the Tories had remained silent about specific issues concerning them.
While there was much in their manifesto to encourage fit, active and engaged older people to contribute to society, it had largely “shied away from tackling the challenges of an ageing society”.
Miller said: “Voluntary insurance to pay for care with the possibility of a top-up to cover the cost of home care is fine for the people who can afford it but falls well short of a solution to the funding crisis facing the care system. There are no new announcements to equip the NHS to cope with an ageing society.”
The charity was more complimentary about Labour’s manifesto, highlighting its commitment to introduce a national care service, paid for by compulsory contributions, though only after the next election but one.
However Miller said Labour still needed to do a lot more to turn rhetoric into practical policies to improve later life.
Age UK gave the Liberal Democrats six out of 18 for their manifesto policies for older people, saying positive policies to immediately scrap default retirement ages and relink rises in the state pensions with increases in average earnings had been undermined by the party’s social care stance.
While the Lib Dems, like Labour, backed the establishment of an independent commission on care funding after the election, Age UK said they had not set out a policy direction for a long-term care funding settlement. This is in contrast to Labour, which backs a national care service with services free at the point of need but funded by compulsory individual contributions.