Fulfilled living in later life
Blue, red or yellow?

Tuesday 5th March 2024

Blue, red or yellow?

Who is offering the best social care solution? With 2024 an election year, Alexandra Davis, our Director of Marketing and Communications, takes a look at what the three main UK-wide parties have to say about one of the defining issues of our age: social care

Thinking about politics through the lens of my Christian faith is one of my favourite pastimes so as we move into this election year, I wanted to know what our political parties are thinking about with regards to social care. This subject will be high on my agenda as I consider how to cast my vote and I think many of you, our Pilgrims’ Friend Society family, will be thinking something similar.

At the time of writing, no election has been called and there are no published manifestos so what I’ve gathered here is what we know so far about what the main parties are likely to offer.

The Conservative Party

It’s been a tricky time for the Conservative Party as the party of Government and unfortunately they haven’t been able to grasp the nettle of issues around social care. Their 2019 manifesto was light on concrete actions and their commitment to spend £1 billion a year over the parliament wasn’t enough to match the £4.1 billion estimated to be required by 2023-24. In the event, it hasn’t been delivered.

However, this may be an opportunity for the Conservative Party to commit to something more concrete. Methodist Homes Association (MHA) CEO, Sam Monaghan noted support at last Autumn’s Conservative Party conference for a Social Care Council which would act as an independent body representing social care sector workers, helping with recruitment in the sector.

Connected to this need to recruit is the reality that many social care sector workers come from overseas and it was good to see that these workers will be exempt from the Government’s changes to the Skilled Worker Visa plan which has increased the salary threshold for those coming to work in the UK to £29,000.

Overall, it seems that while there’s a recognition of the issues facing social care, the Conservative Party hasn’t delivered a clear plan for effective funding or a vision for the sector overall.

The Labour Party

There have been rumblings for a while now from the Labour Party about the prospect of a National Care Service to elevate the status of the social care sector to the same as the NHS. Last June the Fabian Society released a report commissioned by Wes Streeting (the Shadow Secretary of State for Health and Social Care) which laid out a roadmap to make social care available to all with stronger citizen rights. There would be a fair workforce settlement and it would be a new public service with new national leadership.

It would be reasonable to assume that this is likely to form a key part of the Labour Party manifesto for 2024, although funding a change like this will be challenge and it’s been well publicised that the Shadow Chancellor, Rachel Reeves, is planning to hold the exchequer’s purse strings tightly should Labour form the next Government.

The Liberal Democrats

Again, Sam Monaghan from MHA has been scouring the political scene to bring us some analysis and his evaluation is that “social care seems to be a huge priority for the Liberal Democrats.” Last year’s party conference brought news that a pledge to make care free for all (whether at home or in a care home) with an investment of £5 billion, £2 billion of which would be clawed back through savings made in the NHS.

While this is the most concrete policy that we know about so far, the obvious disadvantage is that the Liberal Democrats are unlikely to form a government. However, there is a bit of chatter about a potential hung parliament and it might be that a Lib Dem influence is felt in the corridors of power in that context.

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There should be much more to come in this area during 2024 so do keep in mind what the parties are saying about social care as you prepare to vote. It’s an expensive and complex issue with few simple answers that will be easy to implement, but we have an opportunity to play our part in shaping the future of this incredible sector when we get to the ballot box later this year.

Please pray

• That social care will be a big part of the conversation during the election campaign
• That whoever emerges as our new Government would have courage to tackle such a major and complex challenge as social care

More on the future of social care...