John McDonnell: Next Labour government will introduce free personal care for the elderly

Posted On: 
22nd September 2019

Labour will introduce free personal care for the elderly if the party wins the next general election, John McDonnell is to announce.

Labour would introduce free care for the elderly.
PA Images

The Shadow Chancellor will use his keynote speech to the Labour conference to say the the state of the social care sector is "a national scandal".

He will pledge that a Labour government will reverse Tory spending cuts and restore "dignity in retirement".

Peers urge next Prime Minister to end 'national scandal' with £8bn social care funding boost

And he insisted the £6bn-a-year price tag would come from general taxation rather than the Conseravtives' "gimmicky insurance schemes".

The move would bring England into line with Scotland, where free personal care for the elderly was introduced nearly 20 years ago.

Under the policy, the cost of carrying out tasks such as helping old people getting in and out of bed, bathing and washing, and preparing meals, would be covered by the NHS.

Mr McDonnell will say: "I believe the right to dignity in retirement is a part of that right to health at any stage of life

"The truth is our social care sector is a national scandal. Nearly £8bn taken from council budgets for social care since 2010

"The result is one million people not getting the care they need - 87 people dying a day waiting for care. More than five million unpaid carers looking after loved ones

"And overworked, underpaid care workers only being allowed ten minute visits to those they care for because the current system won’t pay for more."

He will add: "I can announce today that, after years of campaigning by trade unions and carers, as the first building block in our new National Care Service, the next Labour government will introduce personal care free at the point of use in England - funded not through the Conservatives’ gimmicky insurance schemes but, like the NHS and our other essentials, through general taxation.

"And we’ll require all providers – public, private or charitable – to adhere to strict criteria on ethical standards. Putting right a historical omission. 

"Because nothing is more important than dignity in retirement for those who have built our country and given younger generations the world we live in today."

The left-leaning IPPR think-tank welcomed the move.

Director Tom Kibasi said: "This was a central recommendation from an expert and cross-party group convened by IPPR and led by former Labour minister Lord Darzi and former Tory minister Lord Prior, now chairman of NHS England.

“With an ageing society, free social care is the new common sense and vastly preferable to complex and unfair insurance schemes. It is right to end the care lottery and provide security and dignity in older age.”