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Austerity PM urged to step in over social care nightmare before Christmas

A GIANT Christmas card was delivered to Downing Street yesterday with a message urging Theresa May to end the social care crisis, hours before the dire shortage of funding came up at Prime Minister’s Questions (PMQs).

General union GMB, care provider HC One and a delegation of pensioners took the card to the Prime Minister to ask her to honour those who are in need of care and the workers who provide it.

GMB national officer Sharon Wilde said: “Carers work incredibly hard all year round, but at this time of year, their love and dedication is often the difference between someone having a merry Christmas or a lonely, miserable one.

“Health and social care funding is one of the most pressing issues facing our country, with a crisis of epic proportions upon us,” she stressed.

New analysis from Labour revealed yesterday that 2.3 million older people missing out on vital care to help them with basic tasks.

The party is also warning that the “quality of care is on a precipice,” with cuts to council funding due to hit £6.3 billion by next year amid increasing demand from the ageing population.

During PMQs, Ms May accused Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn of being “wrong, wrong, wrong” after he told her that her government had put the NHS “recklessly” at risk.

She claimed that his warnings over insufficient funding of the NHS and social care were baseless.

Mr Corbyn repeatedly raised concerns about the health service and asked whether it had enough resources to cope during the winter — especially given that last month’s Budget saw Chancellor Philip Hammond fail to allocate any extra funding to ease the crisis in social care that is putting further strain on the NHS.

Mr Corbyn told the Commons: “It is there to provide care and dignity for all if they fall ill, but our NHS goes into this winter in crisis.

“Nurses and other workers — no pay rise for years. NHS targets — not met for years. Staff shortages, GP numbers falling.

“The reality is mental health budgets have been cut, social care budgets cut, public health budgets cut.

“The Prime Minister today has shown just how out of touch she is. The truth is our NHS is being recklessly put at risk by her government.”

Around 50,000 hospital patients were left on trolleys last month because of a shortage of beds and many more had to wait in ambulances, he pointed out, warning: “These delays risk lives.”

Turning a deaf ear, Ms May claimed that NHS funding was at “record levels.”

Meanwhile, Local Government Association (LGA) chairman Lord Porter said that increases in council tax should not be used to “plug the gap” in social care funding since paying for the care of the elderly is a “national problem,” so “part of funding should come from national government.”

He was speaking after the government relaxed its council tax cap, allowing local authorities to raise the levy by up to 5.99 per cent next year.

The LGA warned that this would only raise £250m a year — small beer in the light of social care bosses’ estimate that £6bn has been cut from local care budgets since 2010.


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