You may not have studied the Labour Party’s proposals for the reform of social care in detail, but you’ve probably seen the latest Conservative posters decrying Secretary of State for Health Andy Burnham’s so-called ‘Death Tax’. Shadow Secretary of State Andrew Lansley claims Labour are secretly proposing to take £20,000 by way of additional death duties to pay for their plans for care of the elderly. Andy Burnham has demanded that Andrew Lansley have the posters taken down, and unless and until that happens, claims that the Conservatives will be excluded from a forthcoming national conference with the main charities and quangoes.
Whether Labour has such secret plans – and there is allegedly evidence that Ipsos Mori have been asking the public what their view of these plans would be – the fact remains that Labour’s Green Paper for social care reform is ill-advised, unclear and not fully thought through. Its plans for a “portable care assessment” are unworkable with the current disparate eligibility criteria; and Labour seems to have no idea of how the rising numbers of service users could possibly be paid for – it suggests a choice of ‘partnership’, ‘voluntary’ and ‘compulsory’ models.
So whether the thrust of the Conservative campaign is right or wrong; whether Labour are proposing to take ten percent of the value of every estate to pay for its new plans, the fact remains that numbers of elderly and disabled people are rising sharply, and their care and support is too important an issue to be kicked around between any of our political parties.