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Care workers

Highlight keywords  |Print this articlePrint this article
From: The Socialist issue 865, 29 July 2015: Kids go hungry in Tory Britain

Search site for keywords: Austerity - Pay - Government - Cuts - Privatisation - Carers - Elderly - Care workers

Austerity measures cut social care provision

Photo Paul Mattsson

Photo Paul Mattsson   (Click to enlarge)

Simon Carter

Millionaire health minister Jeremy Hunt has reneged on the Tories' election promise to cap social care costs for over 65s. The government was committed to limit care bills to 72,000 (still an enormous sum) next year, but this has now been shelved until 2020.

Hunt didn't even have the guts to announce it in the Commons, instead issuing a statement to the House of Lords on a day when MPs weren't in session. The government will 'save' 3 billion by postponing this recommendation of the earlier Dilnot commission report.

The deferral will cost huge sums of public cash (up to 100 million) having paid Saatchi and Saatchi to publicise the new cap, as well as spending money on new IT systems, staff training, etc.

According to media reports, plans for a new appeals system to challenge care-needs assessments and a new right for people, whatever their means, to ask their local council to arrange and pay for a care home place at lower rates, have also been shelved.

A limit on fees charged to elderly people for residential care is a major issue for millions of families. Currently, anyone with assets over 23,250 has to pay the full cost of their care. Over three million people over 65 years have care needs but only 850,000 qualify for state assistance.

It's estimated that 10% of people receiving such care will pay in excess of 100,000. Many are forced to sell their homes to pay these bills.

Councils are now expected to pay care fees up front as a 'loan', repayable from a person's estate after their death. But they only have to offer these loans if a person's non-property assets are less than 23,250.

Most home care has been outsourced from councils to private profit making companies. Under the Tories' shelved plan, those in residential care will still be responsible for food and lodging even when the 72,000 cap has been reached.


As the previous issue of the Socialist reported, the social care system is in meltdown due to a toxic mix of huge government funding cuts and privatisation. Since 2009, some 500,000 people have lost access to state help with washing, dressing and meals. And many elderly people remain stuck in hospital due to a lack of community care.

We need to end privatisation and ensure a fully-funded, publicly owned and run social care system. A socialist economy would guarantee such a system, free at the point of use.

Private, for-profit, companies represented by the UK Home Care Association have told Chancellor George Osborne that they can't afford to pay their carers next April's "national living wage" of 7.20 an hour, unless they get an extra 753 million of funding.

Around 90% of home care is now provided by private companies paid by cash strapped local authorities and the NHS. These companies are notorious for paying low wages. Many home care workers have complained about not being paid travel time between visits, meaning they are effectively paid below the current paltry minimum wage of 6.50 an hour.

The government's austerity cuts must be reversed, local authorities and the NHS should be properly funded, and carers should be paid a 10 an hour minimum wage as a step to a living wage.

That requires a mass movement to stop the cuts and a workers' government to renationalise the privatised public services and set a proper living wage.

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Coronavirus crisis - Finance appeal

The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.

  • The Socialist Party's material is more vital than ever, so we can continue to report from workers who are fighting for better health and safety measures, against layoffs, for adequate staffing levels, etc.
  • Our 'fighting coronavirus workers' charter', outlines a programme to combat the virus and protect workers' living conditions.
  • When the health crisis subsides, we must be ready for the stormy events ahead and the need to arm workers' movements with a socialist programme - one which puts the health and needs of humanity before the profits of a few.
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