Tuesday, June 25, 2024
HomeNewsLib Dem manifesto to pledge £9bn NHS and care 'rescue package'

Lib Dem manifesto to pledge £9bn NHS and care 'rescue package'

The Liberal Democrats will promise a £9bn package “to save health and care services” in their election manifesto.

The party said its plans for government would be funded by reversing tax cuts for banks and closing tax loopholes exploited by the wealthiest individuals.

It says the NHS and social care will be “at the heart” of the party’s manifesto, which is being launched later on Monday.

An emergency budget could be held to push through measures, deputy leader Daisy Cooper said.

The party’s plans if it wins power include giving everyone the right to see a GP within seven days, as well as free personal care for older or disabled people at home.

Health is devolved so the pledges only cover England.

Speaking to BBC Breakfast, Ms Cooper said: “We hear time and again from people that they can’t see a GP, they can’t see a dentist, their child is on a waiting list for mental health support, they can’t get a care package for an older relative.

“It just feels as though our health and care services have been driven into the ground by these Conservatives.”

Ms Cooper said reversing tax cuts and closing loopholes would be done at the first fiscal event, which would normally be the Autumn Statement, but could be done as “some kind of emergency budget”.

She said: “We wouldn’t want to waste any time at all in trying to change these measures as it’s so vital we get our NHS and social care back on their feet… There could even be an emergency budget if you wanted to.”

She added the party would not raise income tax, national insurance or VAT, saying that during a cost of living crisis it would be “absolutely the wrong thing to do to increase taxes on struggling families”.

The party’s manifesto will include no increases to the rate of income tax, VAT or National Insurance contributions.

Instead it says £4bn would be raised by reversing tax cuts for big banks, while it plans to raise £5bn by closing the loopholes on Capital Gains Tax it says is used by the top 0.1% wealthiest individuals.

Leader Sir Ed Davey, who has spoken about his experience of being a carer for his disabled son and previously caring for his mother – who died of cancer when he was a teenager – has made carers central to his party’s campaign.

The Lib Dems say their manifesto will be the first in the party’s history to include a dedicated chapter on care.

On Sunday, the party announced it would include a pledge to increase the Carer’s Allowance, available to people who look after someone with an illness or disability for at least 35 hours a week, by £20 a week.

They said they would also raise the eligibility threshold for the allowance to those earning less than £183 a week, with the changes costing a total of £1.4bn a year.

It has also promised to ensure care workers are paid at least £2 above the minimum wage to help tackle vacancies.

In total, the party would spend an extra £3.7bn a year on social care.

The Lib Dems have also promised to invest in hospital buildings and public health.

To boost cancer survival rates, it would guarantee all patients can start treatment within 62 days of an urgent referral.

The party says it would guarantee access to an NHS dentist for everyone needing urgent and emergency care.

Meanwhile, it wants to see mental health hubs for young people in every community, with regular check-ups at key points in their lives when they are vulnerable.

Sir Ed said: “By ending the health and social care crisis, we can boost our economy by getting people back to work whilst giving people the dignity they deserve in their hour of need.”

Other policies in the manifesto will include:

  • Plans to overhaul the water industry and tackle sewage pollution
  • A dedicated mental health professional in every primary and secondary school
  • A guarantee that all domestic burglaries would be attended by police and properly investigated

The Lib Dems are targeting areas where they came second to the Conservatives in 2019, especially the so-called “blue wall” areas of southern England that were once Tory strongholds.

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