Labour has pledged to avoid ‘extreme’ cuts to social care in the next parliament in order to improve quality of care and prevent further pressure on the NHS.

  • Labour restates commitment to integrating health and social care services
  • “Health manifesto” does not state levels of cuts expected under a Labour government
  • HSJ’s guide to Labour health policy

In its “health manifesto”, launched by leader Ed Miliband on Saturday, the party renewed its commitment to integrating health and social care services. The document said health and wellbeing boards would be supported to “become a vehicle for system leadership” and local areas encouraged to develop “NHS integrated care organisations and networks”.

It said: “It won’t be possible to rescue and strengthen the NHS without tackling the crisis in social care… and it is precisely because we recognise the value of social care that we reject the Conservatives’ plans for extreme spending cuts in the next parliament, which would see hundreds of thousands fewer older people getting the care they need.”

Ed Miliband

Labour has pledged to ‘a far more ambitious approach to public health’ in its manifesto

The Institute for Fiscal Studies said unprotected areas of government spend would face average cuts of almost 16 per cent over the next parliament under the budget set out by chancellor George Osborne last month. The document does not give any further details as to the levels of cuts that could be expected under a Labour government.

The manifesto pledges that all people with complex needs will have a single point of contact for their care and a personalised care plan. However, it says integration “cannot be imposed by top-down edict” and “must be driven at local level”.

Communities will be encouraged to consider the appropriate model for their area “bringing budgets, commissioners and providers together”, led by HWBs. Providers will be incentivised to focus on prevention through year of care budgets, while health and social care outcomes frameworks will also be integrated to “better coordinate performance monitoring across health and care”.

The Local Government Association and the Association of Directors of Adult Social Care have both called for a shared outcomes framework for health, social care and public health to ensure that incentives are aligned.

The manifesto also pledged that a Labour government would “pursue a far more ambitious approach to public health than we have seen under the current government”, promising to introduce tougher restrictions on marketing sugary foods to children. It also renews Labour’s commitment to give local authorities power to restrict the number of fast food outlets opening in their areas.

Other social care commitments include:

  • tackle abuse in the care system by consulting on a new offence of corporate neglect for directors of care homes;
  • ensure funding currently identified for carers’ breaks goes to carers by making sure it is properly ringfenced;
  • bring in 5,000 new care workers to help support those with the greatest needs at home, particularly at the end of life;
  • tackle workforce exploitation in the care sector to improve care standards and conditions for care workers; and
  • ensure public health is embedded throughout the licensing system so that measures promoting public health can be included in the licensing statement.

Labour launches NHS manifesto amid funding plans row with Tories