Care homes and local councils will ‘go bust’ under botched NHS and social care plan, Starmer to warn
Voters also face soaring council tax bills because the £12bn-a-year national insurance hike will fund the health service – and not shrunken care budgets – the Labour leader will say.
The warnings will come as Sir Keir seeks to counter criticism that Labour has failed to set out an alternative plan for social care, despite a decade of inaction by the government.
A series of tests for success – a principle of care at “home first”, a “New Deal for care workers” and support for unpaid carers – will be set out, although not the costed plan demanded by critics.
The fiercest criticism of the government’s package is that it will fail to end the day-to-day crisis that has left an estimated 1.6 million elderly and disabled people without the help they need.
Only £5.4bn of the £36bn to be raised over three years is for care – and the Treasury admits that is largely for “implementing” the new cap on lifetime costs, plus ensuring councils pay more to private care homes.
Ministers have repeatedly refused to say how much will go to councils for expanding care – despite a £6bn funding black hole even before Covid struck.
“Let’s be clear what that means,” Sir Keir will say in a speech to Labour local government leaders.
“The government is yet again forcing local authorities to put up council tax. This is after £8bn of devastating cuts and the government’s failure to meet its promise to re-compensate local authorities for the extra costs of the pandemic.”
Moreover, the plan to hike the fees councils pay to care homes – to bring them into line with the higher bills of “self-funders” – “runs the real risk of breaking already precarious care homes”, Sir Keir will say.
“The continuation of pushing more pressures to local authorities runs the risk of pushing more over the edge. If these plans aren’t fixed, it will mean care homes or councils going bust,” he will warn.
Labour has declined to say how it would raise the billions needed for the NHS and social care, beyond hinting that wealth would be taxed more heavily in various ways.
Attacking the “unfair” NI hike, Sir Keir will say: “The money could have been raised by taxing the incomes of landlords, and those who buy and sell large quantities of financial assets, stocks and shares.”
And, on Labour’s plans, he will the hugely ambitious pledge that “every older and disabled person who needs support get it where they need it”.
The “home first” principle would shift the focus to prevention and early intervention and people would be given more “choice and control over the support they get”.
The legislation to create the new “health and social care levy” – effectively a NI hike of 1.25 percentage points, from next April – will be pushed through the Commons in a single day, on Tuesday.