[easy-total-shares url="" fullnumber="yes" align="left" networks="facebook,twitter"]

2024 General Election: Lib Dems Social Care proposals

5th June 2024.  As part of the Age Space Election coverage we take a look at all the relevant health and social care proposals for all the main parties.   The Lib Dems are first out of the gate with their plans announced on 4th June.  Here we give you the highlights of the plans, and our view of them. 

The Liberal Democrats say free personal care would be offered to older or disabled people (in England) at home if they won the election.

Leader Sir Ed Davey says this pledge, plus raising care workers’ pay, would help to end the hospital crisis and enable people stay in their own homes.

The plans would be funded by reversing tax cuts given to big banks covering the estimated £2.7bn cost by 2028-29. Independent experts suggest the potential costs of this policy are likely to be higher.

“Far too often, family carers are being left to pick up the pieces because the care system simply isn’t there for them,” Sir Ed Davey said as he announced the plans.

Empowering Independent Living

Currently, only those with an income and assets under £23,250 receive help with the costs of care at home or in residential and nursing homes in England. The proposed reforms aim to create a fairer system that enables people to remain living independently and with dignity at home, and do not leave family carers to shoulder the burden alone.

Free Personal Care

The Liberal Democrats propose introducing free personal care, mirroring the system in Scotland for those with complex needs. This would cover nursing care and daily support, including hygiene and medication for older and disabled people. 

Lib Dems election pledge, free personal care at home

Although those requiring residential care would still contribute towards their accommodation, the overall financial burden on families would be reduced.

Addressing the shortage of care workers

At the heart of the Lib Dem’s proposal is the introduction of a carer’s minimum wage, set at £2 above the standard minimum wage. This initiative aims to attract more individuals to the care sector, addressing the critical shortage of care workers. Additionally, the creation of a Royal College of Care Workers, would provide professional recognition and support to those in the care industry. 

Easing NHS pressures

One of the proposed benefits of these reforms is the potential to ease pressures on the NHS, also saving the NHS upto £3 billion, it is estimated that 12,700 hospital beds could be freed up by patients who could be discharged if support at home was available.

Lib Dems election pledge social care

Funding the reforms

The Lib Dems propose to fund these plans by reversing tax cuts previously given to big banks by the Conservative government. This reversal is expected to cover the estimated £2.7 billion cost by 2028-29. Independent experts suggest that the potential costs may be higher. 

Care sector and industry response

The care industry has largely welcomed these proposals, but there are concerns about the adequacy of funding to address financial and staffing challenges fully.  There were also calls for broader reforms including a National Care Service integrating the NHS and social care. 

The Age Space View - it's a welcome start

The need for comprehensive social care reforms sits alongside myriad competing priorities for the incoming Government after 4 July. The Lib Dems are first out of the gates with their election pledge.

The proposed plans offer a vision of a more equitable and supportive system. It’s a good start and should be welcomed.

Does it go far enough? How will people be assessed for eligibility for free personal care? How long will “staffing up” take?  What will a cross-party commission for long-term funding for social care be able to achieve?

The plans need to be part of a wider programme of root and branch reform across all aspects of health and social care – including how it is paid for and funded – to properly address the issues of caring for an ageing population.