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Social care must be a priority for Labour

The big announcement from the Labour party conference was by Ed Balls regarding a commitment not to reverse the cuts of the current Government. What this actually means for future spending are not wholly clear, but probably means Labour will present a similar overall spending plan to the Tories at the next election.

Balls’ message disappointed some, but as I’ve argued a few times, there is still plenty of Government spending – £680bn p/a – so reprioritising what we invest in is a real option. And Labour seem to be indicating that they are prepared to do so.

As I heard from shadow Ministers John Healey MP, Emily Thornberry MP (both Health) and Barbara Keeley MP (Communities and Local Government), Labour would implement the Dilnot recommendations if they were in power. Furthermore, Labour are keen to work with the current Government to do so now.

Funding Dilnot’s recommendations for improving social care, must not come from further cuts to existing local government and communities spending. Indeed, we would want to see funding for communities and local government increase. I find it strange that Cameron professes it to be his number one priority yet spending on communities and local government received a larger cut than anybody else. The message I heard from some people at the Labour conference was that such funding is essential for councils and council funded groups to help isolated people engage with their community.

Conservative MP, Stephen Dorrell was also at the conference in a lively debate regarding current health care reforms with Labour shadow Minister, John Healey MP. Healey thinks the reforms could mean competition rules would hamper collaboration between providers of services harming patient care. Dorrell, while agreeing with Healey on many things, disagrees on this believing that competition law would not apply and that even if it did you could still have joined-up services. The example he gave was of supermarkets all offering joined up services (all those different types of clothes, food, white products etc) whilst operating under competition law.

Interestingly, Healey also said that Andrew Lansley has got his priorities wrong. He said it was not health care that needs reform but social care and that this should have been the priority. Emily Thornberry MP repeated this theme telling us that the health reforms were distracting focus from where changes did need to be made.

If the Government have got their priorities wrong, Labour must show what they would do to put it right.

Take care

Gordon

PS: Vote to help Crossroads Care Chorley & South Ribble win £6000 http://communityforce.natwest.com/project/1818

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September 28, 2011 - Posted by | Health, Labour, Social Care | ,

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