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Labour's national care service will provide free care for the elderly

LABOUR will set out an audacious bid to provide dignity and security to everyone in old age tomorrow by vowing to establish a national care service with sweeping new powers.

Shadow mental health minister Barbara Keeley and shadow chancellor John McDonnell will formally announce the policy at the Labour Party conference, promising to vastly increase funding to help people live independently in their own homes.

Labour will outline plans to introduce free personal care for all older people, offering help with daily tasks such as bathing, washing, cooking and assistance around the house.

Any outsourcing of the service has been ruled out, with care provision being provided by local authorities.

Levels of support for care staff will also be massively improved — and Labour has pledged that its national care service will guarantee proper training across the industry.

Workers will also receive a real living wage and zero-hours contracts in social care will be abolished.

The initiative follows years of scandals in which care workers have been paid below the minimum wage by private contractors — only dementia sufferers have been entitled to publicly funded care.

The new service is expected to double the number of people receiving state-funded care while relieving thousands of people of the heavy burden of care costs.

Announcing the policy at the conference, Mr McDonnell will say: “I believe the right to dignity in retirement is a part of that right to health at any stage of life.

“The truth is our social care sector is a national scandal.

“Nearly £8 billion has been taken from council budgets for social care since 2010.

“The result is one million people not getting the care they need, 87 people dying a day waiting for care, more than five million unpaid carers looking after loved ones and and overworked, underpaid care workers are only being allowed 10-minute visits to those they care for because the current system won’t pay for more.”

Ms Keeley will say: “Tackling the crisis in social care is a priority for Labour.

“Our plans for social care will address the immediate crisis in care, double the number of people receiving publicly-funded care and stop people with dementia being treated unfairly by the care system.

“It is vital that social care is a universally available public service which provides dignity, security and compassionate care.

“Our national care service will have these principles at its core.”

General union GMB praised the announcement, saying: “It’s welcome to see Labour putting forward a bold plan to fix a social care sector that has been left to crumble around our ears.”

National secretary Rehana Azam said: “Our highly skilled members working in care are undervalued and underpaid public servants. GMB has been campaigning to professionalise the sector for many years.

“This is in sharp contrast to a serially unreliable and untrustworthy Tory Prime Minister who had promised a plan for social care to great fanfare but has yet again failed to deliver.”

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