Barbara Keeley MP


Barbara's Salford Advertiser Column, 10 January 2013

handsAt long last the Government looks like it may announce proposals for the long-term funding of social care. These were promised last summer but the Conservative-led Government has been reluctant to find the funding. This has meant great anxiety for the families of people who need care, with some older people having to sell their homes to pay for their care.

Providing adequate funding for social care would cost around £1.7 billion, increasing to £2.8 billion within 10 years. The political parties need to agree on the way forward for such a big change. The Liberal Democrat MP who was Care Services Minister until September has suggested that the way to find most of the cash needed for care is to hit pensioners by means-testing the winter fuel allowance.

This is the wrong solution. Making sure that older people can stay warm enough in winter is a key priority for me.  Age UK tell us that 24,000 people died unnecessarily from cold across the country last winter. With such a high number of winter deaths, the Government should not consider any policies that would lead to more older people being cold in winter. I am so concerned about this problem I am going to run a 10k race in March to raise funds for Age UK’s “Spread the Warmth Campaign”.

Rather than hitting older people by cutting their winter fuel allowance, the Government should look at other funding areas to find the cash needed for care. The Government is wasting up to £3 Billion on its unnecessary re-organisation of the NHS. They are also giving a tax cut to the wealthiest people in our society. I believe that putting funding of social care before these other changes is a better way forward. I urge the Government to do so and not to hit the well-being of older people in winter.

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