Jeremy Corbyn attacks Philip Hammond’s bid to ease social care crisis as ‘too little, too late’

Labour leader accuses Chancellor of ‘patching up a small part of the damage’ caused by Conservative cuts

Rob Merrick
Deputy Political Editor
Wednesday 08 March 2017 15:31 GMT
Jeremy Corbyn also said the Budget fails to provide the funding needed for the NHS crisis
Jeremy Corbyn also said the Budget fails to provide the funding needed for the NHS crisis (PA)

Jeremy Corbyn has branded the Chancellor’s cash injection to ease the social care crisis too little, too late, in a passionate Budget response.

The Labour leader pointed out that the independent King’s Fund had called for an immediate £2bn, after huge cuts saw hundreds of thousands of pensioners deprived of care.

In his Budget, Philip Hammond had promised only £1bn for social care in 2017-18, although he said the sum would reach £2bn over three years.

Mr Corbyn accused the Chancellor of only “patching up a small part of the damage” from £4.6bn of cuts to social care since the Coalition was born in 2010.

“There is a state of emergency in social care now, which needs £2bn a year just to plug the gaps,” he said.

“That is not met by £2bn over three years. The money is needed now.

“More than a million mainly elderly people desperate for social care still can’t get it. The money ought to be available now.”

Similarly, the Budget had failed to “provide the funding necessary now for the crisis in our NHS” – which the British Medical Association said needed an extra £10bn.

Mr Hammond announced £100m to try to ease pressures in overcrowded A&E departments, with a hint of extra capital funds for local NHS chiefs in the autumn.

The Government had “ducked tough choices”, Mr Corbyn said, such as asking “big corporations to pay a little bit more in tax”.

He accused Mr Hammond of handing £70bn of tax giveaways over the next five years “to those who need it least” – big companies and the wealthy.

And he said he was neglecting:

  • Millions struggling to pay their rent or mortgage – many paying half of their income in rent
  • Over 3,000 people queuing every day for food banks – to “feed themselves and their families”
  • More than 4,000 people sleeping rough in the streets every night.
  • Public-sector workers enduring a long pay freeze, which meant they had seen “no pay rise for seven years”
  • Four million children in poverty – a figure set to rise by a further one million, on independent forecasts.

Mr Corbyn said: “The Prime Minister came to office talking about fighting burning injustices.

“Less than nine months later she seems to have forgotten all about them because none of them are being fought today.”

And he added: “We are the only major developed country in which economic growth has returned yet workers are worse off.

“Wages are still below the 2008 level. Inflation rising, an urgent need to address the pressure on people’s incomes, massively rising personal debts, rising energy bills and the cost of the weekly shop, transport costs and housing costs rising.”

He said it was a particular “insult” to workers in the public sector, who he said were working harder than ever to make up for cuts to staff.

Mr Corbyn added: “This is a Chancellor and a Government not on the side of the workers, not on the side of the taxpayers, who pick up the bill for low pay and insecure work.”

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