Changes to social care costs will hit the least well-off the hardest

Read Kate’s latest column for the Shields Gazette: 

There is little doubt that the Covid-19 pandemic has caused havoc with our NHS over the past 18 months.

Boris Johnson stood on the steps of Downing Street and promised to fix the crisis in social care

Now it must catch up with the backlog of millions of people waiting for treatment.

The Covid crisis glaringly exposed the weaknesses caused by the Tories’ wicked programme of austerity in recent years.

It also brought out the best in our health service and the whole of society is extremely thankful for their work in protecting us, looking after our loved ones, and keeping the country going.

I can’t speak highly enough of NHS staff across the Jarrow constituency for all they have done and continue to do in our fight against Covid-19.

And I also can’t speak highly enough of all the South Tyneside, Sunderland and Queen Elizabeth Hospital workers who have delivered vital care to many of my constituents throughout the pandemic.

Earlier this week in Westminster, I voted against the Conservative Government’s hugely controversial Health and Care Bill.

The major reorganisation of the NHS was voted through in the Commons by Tory MPs despite mass protests on various elements of the Bill such as social care reforms and the presence of private representatives on NHS boards.

The Health and Care Bill will replace 100 or so Clinical Commissioning Groups with Integrated Care Systems (ICSs) in 42 regions of England.

These reforms will bring in a huge influx of decision-making power to private companies and democratically unaccountable third parties through “Integrated Care Systems”, which will not guarantee patients’ right to access the healthcare they need, when they need it.

What’s even more appalling is that it was reported that Conservative MPs dined with mega-rich donors at a winter fundraising ball as they forced through their social care reforms that will affect many of the poorest in this country.

Boris Johnson stood on the steps of Downing Street and promised to fix the crisis in social care, when he announced a cap on care costs for adults in England from October 2023. The Prime Minister promised a limit of £86,000 on how much an individual has to pay over their lifetime.

However, a matter of days ago, the Government announced it was introducing an amendment to the reforms which means that only the amount a person contributes to their care costs will count towards the £86,000 cap. Anything that an individual’s local authority contributes will not be counted.

This change is unfair and will cost those less well-off and northern people more in care home fees.

It also means wealthy people who do not qualify for support will hit the cap threshold more quickly than people who have part of their care funded by the council.

When the pandemic struck over 18 months ago, this Government have ploughed public funds through contract giveaways to the private healthcare industry.

Private testing labs, data systems, recruitment agencies, and Serco’s disastrous Test and Trace system are a case in point.

All of this could have stayed in public hands but was farmed out for profit, not for need.

It’s another con by the Prime Minister and people are finally seeing what this Government actually stands for.