Budget 2017: Furious Jeremy Corbyn lashes out at Tories jeering him as he calls for urgent social care funds

Labour leader rebukes members of Government for displaying 'uncaring' and 'uncouth' attitudes towards care for 'desperate' elderly people after Chancellor fails to mention issue in speech

May Bulman
Social Affairs Correspondent
Wednesday 22 November 2017 14:03
Corbyn heckled while speaking on social care: "The uncaring, uncouth attitude of certain members...has to be called out"

Jeremy Corbyn has lashed out at Conservative MPs in a passionate tirade against cuts to social care budgets, after the Chancellor failed to mention the issue in his Budget speech.

The Labour leader rebuked members of the Government for displaying "uncaring" and "uncouth" attitudes after Tory ministers jeered him as he warned over a million elderly people are not receiving the care they need due to funding cuts.

Social care policy has been frozen since Ms May was forced to axe her election plans to make homeowners pay more for their care, after they were dubbed a “dementia tax”.

But despite pressure from both the opposition and several senior Tory MPs for the Government to use the Budget to work towards finding a solution, there was no mention of social care in Philip Hammond's announcement.

Moments after Mr Hammond finished reeling off his speech, Mr Corbyn harked: “Over a million of our elderly aren’t receiving the care they need," prompting an MP on his side of the House to chip in: "Nothing on social care!"

The Labour leader continued: "Over £6bn will have been cut from social care budgets by next march. I hope the honourable member begins to understand what it’s like to wait for social care, stuck in a hospital bed, while other people have to give up their work to care for them.

“The uncaring, uncouth attitude of certain members of [inaudible] must be called out [...] Mr Speaker, that is why social care budgets are so important for so many very desperate people in our country.”

While there was no mention of social care in Mr Hammond's speech, the Budget red book states that the Government will provide £42 million of additional funding for the Disabled Facilities Grant in 2017-18, supporting people to stay in their own homes, increasing the total budget for this year to £473 million.

Days before Mr Hammond's speech, 90 MPs, including senior Tories and former cabinet ministers, wrote to the Prime Minister demanding cross-party action to tackle the social care crisis.

One-third of the MPs who signed the letter were Conservative, including former cabinet ministers Nicky Morgan and Andrew Mitchell and Sarah Wollaston, chairwoman of the Health Select Committee.

The letter came after ministers broke a promise to outline reform plans by the end of this year, shelving a consultation until next summer. It urged Theresa May to work with all parties, the public and health and care staff to find a solution, warning: “The need for action is greater now than ever.”

While the Government has committed to publishing the long-awaited Green Paper on social care next summer, politicians and charities have warned more needs to be done to secure extra recurring money to address funding gaps, continuing service pressures and the stability of the care market.

Responding to the Budget, Janet Morrison, chief executive of Independent Age, said: “With nearly a quarter of the population set to be over the age of 65 by 2030, making Britain 'fit for the future' must surely include setting out plans to meet the needs of our ageing population.

"The fact that the words “social care” didn’t even merit a mention in the Chancellor’s budget speech is a stark omission.

“A country fit for the future must be fit for all [...] If we are to ensure that no one is left behind, as the Prime Minister promised when she formed the current Government, it is disappointing to see an opportunity missed to work towards the UK being the best place in the world to grow old.”

Margaret Willcox, president of the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS), meanwhile said: “We are extremely disappointed that the Government has not addressed the need for extra funding for adult social care.

"This means that this winter and throughout next year we will continue to see more older and disabled people not getting the care and support – which they desperately need now."

She warned that a lack of extra funding would also lead to an "even greater toll being placed on the 6.5 million family members and other carers", citing that by the end of this financial year, £6 billion will have been cut from councils’ adult social care budgets since 2010.

“The Government has committed to publishing the long-awaited Green Paper on social care next summer, but much more needs to be done to secure extra recurring money to address funding gaps, continuing service pressures and the stability of the care market," she added.

Jan Tregelles, chief executive of Mencap, urged specifically that the Budget failed to deal with the sleep-in funding crisis, which has left 200 disability charities facing insolvency after the Government changed guidance clarifying that carers were entitled to the minimum wage for overnight “on-call” work

“This Budget that claimed to be investing in Britain’s future and that ‘cares for the vulnerable’, will leave many people with a learning disability, their families and care workers wondering if this is a Government that really cares about them," she said.

“The sleep-in funding crisis, caused by faulty Government guidance on overnight shift payments cannot be ignored any longer. A new enforcement process is no substitute for a funded, responsible solution.

“Government must urgently make clear its intention to provide critical financial support for providers, who were simply delivering, local authority commissioned care services.”

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