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Keir Starmer says National Care Service is planned on visit to Nottinghamshire hospital

Sir Keir Starmer says his party will get a “grip” on social care if it wins the General Election – but he has also stopped short of committing extra money for cash-strapped councils to stop them taxing households more.

The Labour leader paid a visit to Bassetlaw Hospital in Worksop alongside shadow health secretary Wes Streeting on Saturday, June 15, two days after the party unveiled its manifesto.

In the manifesto, Labour committed to social care reform. It is a sector many councils, including Nottingham City Council, have been struggling with due to demand and costs.

Adult and children’s social care accounts for more than 60 per cent of the City Council’s annual budget, and soaring costs in the sector are contributing to a number of local authorities ending up in financial trouble.

The costs of support for rising homelessness further bring this figure up to 80 per cent, leaving just 20 per cent of the council’s budget for other provisions.

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As a result, many local authorities have been increasing council tax, including the social care precept, and cutting services.

While Labour says it would not increase taxes on working people, councils across the country are being forced to increase local taxes to help fund services and set balanced budgets.

Asked if his party would commit more money to local authorities to avoid further hikes to council tax, Sir Keir said: “On tax on working people let me be really clear, we will not be increasing tax on working people.

“So that means no increase in income tax, in National Insurance and VAT.

“I understand the pressures on our councils that have been underfunded and not supported for many, many years to a point where many voters are now worried about the basic provision of services.

“That is intolerable. I do think there are things we can do. A longer-term settlement will help because the money can then be used more effectively.

“We can deal with the no-fault evictions, which in too many cases now put an added burden on councils, and of course if we can stabilise the economy quickly that will help bring the inflation rates down, but we intend to make sure services are back to the standard people would expect.”

 

On how a Labour government would reform the sector, Sir Keir said: “It is a genuinely serious problem that has not been addressed in the last 14 years and made worse, frankly, under this government.

“We will, if we come into power, grip it. We will set about a National Care Service, and that means straight away changing the structure and paying conditions for staff because at the moment they are very fragmented.

“They are often poorly paid, so many of them often leave the NHS.

“With our fair pay agreement, we can have a settlement across the country that addresses those issues. That will then be the bedrock of building the National Care Service on top of that.”

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