Election 2017: Candidates have their say on Redbridge’s social care crisis
PUBLISHED: 17:00 19 May 2017
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A number of general election candidates have shared their views on how Redbridge’s older population should be properly cared for.
The Conservative manifesto, published yesterday, describes the Tories’ plans as “the first ever proper plan to pay for - and provide - social care” but critics have already labelled it a “death tax” that forces older people to pay more for their own care.
One of the most controversial methods of funding the country’s social care that Theresa May has announced today is the change to the ways in which older people will be charged.
Under Conservative plans, people worth more than £100,000 would have to pay for their care - but could defer payment until after their death.
For the first time, the value of people’s homes will also be included in working out whether or not they meet that £100,000.
Such a policy will have a big knock-on effect in Redbridge, where latest surveys put home ownership at 64pc.
Labour instead pledges to protect the triple lock on state pensions – meaning pensions would annually increase by either 2.5pc or in line with inflation or average earnings if that was higher – although many economists have argued Jeremy Corbyn’s sums do not add up.
Labour’s Ilford South candidate Mike Gapes, who has held the seat for 25 years, told the Recorder he fully backed the formation of a national care service that would combine the NHS and social care.
Requiring an £8bn start up fund, the national care service would be a one-stop access point for any elderly or vulnerable people facing healthcare issues.
Mr Gapes said: “What we are currently facing all is a nationwide cut of £4.6bn from social care, and this has put unprecedented pressure on local authorities.”
The veteran MP was also sceptical of the proposed Tory overhaul, saying: “The problem with Theresa May’s plans is the detail is not there.
“There are still big questions the Conservatives need to answer.”
His fellow Labour candidate in Ilford North, incumbent Wes Streeting, was similarly focussed on the Tories’ record.
He said: “We have got one of the fastest-growing aging populations in London and throughout these last two years I have seen the impact of Tory cuts in my own casework.
“One of the things that’s clear in the Tory manifesto is that they’re planning on making pensioners pay a hell of a lot more.
“As ever, the Conservatives can always find ways to get tax breaks for the better off, but when it comes to older people’s care the money suddenly isn’t there.”
But Conservative candidate Lee Scott, standing in Ilford North, strongly disagreed.
He said: “Our manifesto commitment means no one needs to fear losing their house to pay for their care.
“That is a really good thing, because one of the biggest fears among older people, not just in Redbridge but across the country, is that they will have to sell their home to pay for their care.
“It’s a problem I have had to deal with with my own parents.”
And Mr Scott argued that, at a local level, recent decisions made by Redbridge Council had not helped matters.
He told the Recorder: “What is important is that people understand that locally our services are still being underfunded.
“It is a matter for the council and I think they need to be asked what their priorities are.
“I think we have to really look at how we can make sure we are looking after Redbridge’s older population.”
Liberal Democrat candidate Deborah Ungar, standing in Chingford and Woodford Green, labelled Conservative plans “mean spirited”.
The Lib Dems would increase social care funding by £6bn by adding an extra 1p in the pound to income tax.
She said: “I think the social care plans the Conservatives have put out are appalling.
“In my constituency one in five people are aged over 65 – I think people could be hit really hard by this.”