Siobhan McMahon MSP, Shadow Minister for Public Services and Wealth Creation, says she is proud that Scottish Labour voted to axe the care tax.
As you may know, I’m currently undertaking a consultation on the abolition of charges for non residential social care. It is an issue close to my heart.
I’ve made my thoughts clear on this a number of times. Access to a high standard of non-residential social care is an equality and human rights issue; it cannot be fair that wealth is ever allowed to come into it. The unfairness of charges is exacerbated by the fact that charges for care services vary wildly between local authorities. An easier and fairer way would be for the Scottish Government to assist councils with the cost of the delivery of care and ensure that it is free at the point of delivery.
As a Member of the Scottish Parliament for Central Scotland I hold surgeries across Lanarkshire and Falkirk. Everywhere I go, I hear of the struggles from disabled people from all walks of life brought on by social care charges. Living as a disabled person incurs all sorts of extra costs in the form of paying for things like more heating and specialised diets. Further social care charges means many are left unable to enjoy the things in life that non-disabled people take for granted. The result is that many disabled people fall below the poverty line while others who need additional help go without it for fear of cost.
I brought forward the consultation because I sensed there was a real mood among people with disabilities to tackle this issue. I know from my years on the Scottish Parliament’s Equal Opportunities Committee that charities representing people with disabilities have long wanted to see an end to charges for social care. Even at the height of the Referendum last year, a petition from “Scotland Against the Care Tax” garnered signatures from thousands of individuals.
I was delighted that members voted to commit our party to axe the care tax at the Scottish Labour Party’s annual conference at the end of October. So much credit must go to those behind the motion, Pam Duncan-Glancy, who has grown up having care charges a constant in her life, and her friend Sean Morton. Both Pam and Sean made impassioned pleas for the removal of charges that resonated with the hall. You can find Sean’s impressive speech below.
The success of the motion is something our whole party can be very proud of and means that we go into the coming election committed to scrapping this unjust charge on disability. This creates a real dividing line between Labour and other parties.
My consultation on the care tax is still open and will be until the January 31st. I would welcome as much feedback as possible, so if you have something to add please do not hesitate to offer your submission.