Liberal Democrats launch mini-manifesto for carers

Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey is to launch a new six-page mini-manifesto, focused on care.

The party has already put care “right at the centre” of its General Election campaign.

The pamphlet, to be unveiled on Tuesday, is titled A Fair Deal On Care and highlights the pledges already made in the Lib Dems’ 116-page full manifesto.

Sir Ed Davey wearing hi-vis uses a power hose to clean a bright yellow ambulance.
Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey washes an ambulance on the campaign trail in Wimbledon, south-west London, on Monday (Jeff Moore/PA)

The party has also published data on the rising cost of nursing home care – from an average of £563 per week in 2015/16 to £910 in 2022/23, a rise of 62%, according to House of Commons Library research.

Sir Ed said: “I’ve been a carer for much of my life – first as a teenager, nursing my mum during her long battle against bone cancer, and now as a father. Emily and I care for our disabled son, John.

“There are millions of family carers across the UK looking after loved ones. We are a nation of carers. But for far too long caring has been in the shadows. I am proud that the Liberal Democrats have brought it into the light.

“We are putting forward a bold and ambitious plan to make sure everyone can get the support they need – people who need care, the amazing care workers who provide it, and the unpaid family carers who provide it too.

“Every vote for the Liberal Democrats is a vote to elect a strong local champion who will fight every day for care and carers.”

Headings in the document include “Standing up for unpaid carers”, “Ending the postcode lottery” and “Helping people to age well”.

The Lib Dems have pledged to establish an independent living taskforce to help people live independently in their own homes, a new care worker’s minimum wage to raise their pay by £2 an hour, and a new National Care Agency to set minimum standards of care across the country.

If the party can form a government, it would also establish a commissioner for older people and ageing in England, fill a “black hole in local authority social care funding”, and introduce new paid carer’s leave.

Sir Ed Davey crouches as he builds a sandcastle with a little girl
Sir Ed Davey builds sandcastles near Paignton while on the campaign trail in Devon (Will Durrant/PA)

“Ultimately, we can only fix care for the long term by forging an agreement that all parties sign up to, so that it stands the test of time,” the document reads.

“That’s why we will establish a cross-party commission to forge a long-term agreement on sustainable funding for social care in England.”

Chris Thomas, of the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR), welcomed the Liberal Democrats’ focus on care in a statement earlier in June.

“Doing better is a social and economic imperative – on which the commitment to free personal care, long argued for by IPPR, will be particularly important,” he said.

He added: “The Liberal Democrats have demonstrated they have their finger right on the political pulse of the country by putting health and care at the heart of their manifesto.”

But Paul Johnson, director of the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS), said: “Putting an extra £27 billion into day-to-day public spending represents a meaningful change to current plans.

“But the vast majority of this spending would be targeted at health, education and defence, alongside increases in the social security budget: they want, for example, to scrap the two-child limit on means-tested benefits and make Carer’s Allowance more generous.

“This would still leave unprotected departments – including prisons, courts and local government – attempting to deliver billions more in cuts to their already-shaky services.”

Sally Warren, director of policy at The King’s Fund, has previously said cross-party talks on social care and waiting for agreement could “waste time”, as she insisted a government should be confident enough to get on with the necessary reform.

She said: “The reality is social care reform is so challenging that a government with a majority can decide what to do, crack on and do it.

“The likelihood that any future government would want to reopen that Pandora’s box and get their fingers burnt all over again, I think is pretty low.

“So I think a government should have the confidence to come in, grasp the nettle, differentiate themselves for voters by being able to say, ‘Look, we grappled with this long-term problem that nobody else has been able to solve and we’re cracking on with it’.

“I think that’s what a new government should do, not waste time discussing cross-party talks.”