MP for the Two Cities, Nickie Aiken, championed the role local authorities have in providing social care.
Speaking during a debate on the Plan for Health & Social Care, Nickie spoke of how being the daughter of a dad who lives with Alzheimer’s, she knows first hand what it is like, and how important it is to tackle social care in a fair way. It’s a difficult issue and Nickie is pleased the government are grasping it.
During Nickie's time as Leader of Westminster City Council, 40% of the budget was made up for social care and adult social services. Local authorities already do incredible work for the social care sector, but Nickie called to ensure any money raised goes to our brilliant local authorities, along with the NHS.
Championing local authorities during the debate, Nickie said,
"Thank you, Mr Deputy Speaker. I am a low tax Conservative, but I have concluded over many years that if we are to resolve the social care crisis that we are experiencing in this country, it is necessary to raise the money to pay for that.
"And therefore, I do support the introduction of a National Health and Social Care Levy. Pandemic or no pandemic, we had to raise the funds somehow. And I do feel that successive governments have failed to address the social care crisis in this country because they were too scared to face the fact that we would have to raise the funds. Whether it was a Labour Government, a Coalition Government or a Conservative Government, until now.
"The Prime Minister has made the brave decision to do that. But with that decision to raise funds must come reform. And I accept that the pandemic has meant that we now have huge waiting lists on the NHS, over five million people, and if we do not address that, that will only increase.
"Therefore, I accept that the money in the first year or so has got to go to the NHS. But as we've heard from across these benches over the last couple of hours, we must have reform.
"We cannot allow the money to continue to go into what has been described as a black hole. But from my Local Government, former experience, I can tell you that my previous budget as the Leader of Westminster City Council, 40 percent was made up for Social Care, for Adult Social Services. It is an incredible amount of money.
"If we are not to address the issues that we have, and we know that people are in their own homes or in care homes. People are living longer. We have got to ensure that local authorities are properly funded to provide the frontline services that they do.
"I know that from the Local Government Association, they claim that there's over £2 billion gap at the moment. And so I would ask the frontbench that we do ensure in the Spending Review that local authorities are given the funding they need to address the immediate issues that social care face.
"Mr Deputy Speaker, I was very, very proud to spend a week looking after my father, who has advanced alzheimer's during Summer Recess, where my mother had a respite holiday, and it was a pleasure, but it was also very, very difficult.
"And I pay tribute to all those family members who do look after their, their, loved ones who have got dementia and alzheimer's. We pay them a huge debt from society. And I do hope that the money raised from this Levy will go towards helping those partners who look after their loved ones with respite care, but also providing our brilliant care workers, whether they are in care homes or providing care at home. The pay and conditions that they deserve, they have shown through this pandemic what a brilliant service they do provide.
"So, Mr. Deputy Speaker, I will support the government this evening, but I do hope that we will see reform along with the rise."