Barbara has called on the Conservative Government to look at making grants available to support the costs to parents of burying children.
At a debate in Westminster on Children’s Funeral Costs, Barbara and a large number of Labour MPs were present to hear Carolyn Harris, MP for Swansea East, make a courageous speech asking for help from the Government for families who lose a baby or a child.
Carolyn Harris MP described her own pain at the loss of her eight-year old son Martin, who died in a road accident. The MP wants to act as the voice for bereaved parents whom she says will be unprepared emotionally and financially to deal with the death of a child.
The Government Minister’s response was to say that loans of up to £700 were available towards funeral costs, however the loans are only available to those on benefits. He also stated local councils should look at waiving burial fees, as some councils are already doing.
Speaking in the debate, Barbara Keeley said that:
“parents in a fog of bereavement cannot even think of filling in DWP forms, and a grant of £700 goes nowhere towards the cost of a funeral in many parts of the country”
After the debate, Barbara commented:
“The Minister’s only solution seemed to be for councils to waive burial fees. I applaud those councils that have managed to do that, but it does present councils with a really hard choice on whether they can provide this help.”
“I hope some of our councils in Greater Manchester will be able to look at waiving burial fees and other costs for children’s funerals, but it would be fairer if the Government provided this help to all families who lose a child.”
Barbara has called on the Conservative Government to look at making grants available to support the costs to parents of burying children. At a debate in Westminster on Children’s Funeral...
Barbara has warned that the social care system faces collapse if the Conservative Government continues to ignore the need to fund the care system adequately.
In a speech to the 2016 National Children and Adult Services Conference in Manchester, Barbara echoed warnings made in a cross-party report by Local Government Association of council leaders, which said that social care services are facing a crisis about their very existence.
The social care sector faces significant challenges because of an ageing population, a struggle to recruit care workers, under-funding and years of Government cuts to council budgets. The recent increases to the National Minimum Wage for the care sector were not funded by the Government in the Budget. Instead, local councils are allowed to raise extra money for social care, up to a limit of 2% of Council Tax.
In many parts of the country, providers or care at home and care home providers are handing back contracts to councils, as they say that are undeliverable due to low levels of fees.
Six years of Government cuts to local council budgets have seen local authority spending on the care and support needs of older and disabled people fall dramatically. Age UK estimate that over a million older people in England are now living with unmet social care needs. The number of older people receiving publicly-funded social care has “plummeted” by 26% since 2009.
“Ministers have been warned time and time again about the developing crisis in social care and they have failed to act to fund social care adequately.
“The number of older and vulnerable people who rely on social care services is increasing and the services in place cannot cope with the rising demand. The current system is unsustainable.
“Local councils are expected to cope with the increasing financial burden of social care, while Government cuts mean they are less and less able to shoulder that burden. Salford City Council, needed £2.7 Million just to pay for the minimum wage increases in our local care sector but can only raise £1.6 million from the social care precept. Councils are being forced to do more with less. But this cannot continue.
“This is a critical time for our fragile health and care systems. The Government currently has no clear plan or strategy to tackle the funding of social care. Failure to act now could lead to the collapse of services which are vital to older and vulnerable people and their carers.”
Barbara has warned that the social care system faces collapse if the Conservative Government continues to ignore the need to fund the care system adequately. In a speech to the...
Barbara has criticised Jeremy Hunt for breaking a pledge to increase funding for mental health services.
Last December the Health Secretary said that Clinical Commissioning Groups would increase the proportion of their funding that goes into mental health. However recent responses to Freedom of Information Requests show that the opposite is happening, with half of the groups who responded admitting that they plan to cut the amount they will spend on mental health this year.
Barbara was speaking in a debate on a report on Young People’s Mental Health by the Youth Select Committee of the British Youth Council. More than 90,000 young people voted specifically for mental health services as their number one issue of concern in the 2014 UK-wide 'Make Your Mark’ ballot.
During the debate Barbara highlighted the fact that the Health Secretary had recently admitted “...we are letting down too many families and not intervening early enough when there is a curable mental health condition, which we can do something about when a child is eight or nine, but if you leave it until they are 15 or 16, it’s too late”. She said that the Government’s decision to press ahead with damaging cuts to local authority budgets meant that many of the local services providing early intervention services and support for young people had been forced to scale back services or close their doors. Ofsted has reported that between 2010 and 2015 there was a 38% cut (538 million) in funding for children’s centres, and a 53% cut (£623 million) in funding for youth services.
“It is clear that children’s mental health services have been woefully underfunded for years. Demand is outstripping supply and Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services are now described as the “Cinderella of the Cinderella Service.”
“The Government’s record on children’s and young people’s mental health is dreadful. The system is at breaking point. Demand for services is growing, waiting lists for support are too long, access to services is effectively a postcode lottery and the threshold for accessing help is getting higher and higher. The Health Secretary’s failure to act and to follow through the promises he made on crucial mental health funding is actually failing many thousands of children and young people.”
“The Health Secretary admits that this is possibly the biggest single area of weakness in NHS provision at the moment. But actions speak louder than words and he must act now. It is time to increase funding for overstretched mental health services for children and young people. If Ministers are serious about tackling these issues, they must follow their funding pledges with action.”
Barbara has criticised Jeremy Hunt for breaking a pledge to increase funding for mental health services. Last December the Health Secretary said that Clinical Commissioning Groups would increase the proportion...