2013 was a difficult year for many people in Salford. The Conservative-led Government’s unfair Bedroom Tax hit 1,750 households in Worsley and Eccles South and 5,500 households across Salford. This unfair charge is also taking around £3 million from the local economy in Salford due to many people having less to spend.
Following my questioning a Government Minister recently admitted that the Bedroom Tax also affects carers, many of whom have already given up work in order to care. There may be 500 carers in Salford now struggling to pay this unfair charge which hits the most vulnerable people in our community. A national survey of carers found that forcing them to pay the Bedroom Tax meant that three-quarters of them had to cut back on essentials like food or electricity.
The new Care Bill legislation should be giving hope to people needing social care and to their carers. We needed a bill to give better support to carers and to provide an answer to the long-term funding of social care. However, lack of funding means the Care Bill will be a wasted opportunity.
The Bill gives new rights to carers, who will now be entitled to an assessment of their needs. I fought for these new rights to be extended to young carers and I am pleased that the Government now recognises that young carers should be included. However, the Coalition is not backing the new rights with the funding needed for a population with growing numbers of older people and people with a disability.
The Government is also failing to address the funding crisis in long-term social care. They now propose to set the cap for state support at too high a level, meaning that only around 1 in 200 people aged over 65 will be eligible for state help in the future.
A Labour Government in 2015 will address this problem through our plans for whole person care, bringing health and social care services together. Social care should mean “peace of mind throughout a longer life”. Planning for this will be Labour’s goal for 2014 and beyond.