The government has cut £4.6 billion from the social care budget rather than funded the gap in spending as it has claimed, Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn said in New Cross last night.
In a speech to a refugee benefit event, Corbyn lambasted the absence of the NHS and social care from this year’s Autumn Statement, complaining that Chancellor Phillip Hammond spoke for 52 minutes and did not mention either of them.
He said the government was wrong to ague that it was funding social care, when since 2011 it had cut £4.6 billion from the social care budget.
He argued that the price of austerity is often being paid for by the most vulnerable in our society: “By frail, often elderly people, Stuck in NHS hospital beds because there isn’t sufficient social care for them to go into the community, because it has been cut.”
Corbyn then criticised the government’s plan to plug the social care gap by increasing Council Tax by 6 percent: “The problem is that council tax is essentially based on property values. Therefore, 6 percent to Kensington and Chelsea goes a very long way, 6 percent in Leeds, Hull, and Manchester does not.”
Received with rapturous applause from the predominantly young audience, Corbyn pledged Labour would prevent the continued privatisation of the NHS: “Nye Bevan founded the NHS to be a National health service for a reason, he didn’t want these grotesque levels of health and care inequality to fester and get worse.”
Corbyn attended the benefit held at the Amersham Arms in New Cross to help raise money for refugees and their families. He praised the work undertaken by the Lewisham Refugee & Migrant Network (LRMN) – a charity that offers free advice on immigration, welfare, housing and education in the Lewisham area.
The benefit featured several other speakers including Maisie Sanders from Lewisham Momentum and Rosario Guimba-Stewart from LMRN. In between the speakers there were live sets from local bands such as ‘Thumb’ and ‘Reptiles’.
The Labour leader also spoke in support of a private member’s bill due to be voted on today in Parliament – which calls for the government to ratify the Istanbul Convention.
The Istanbul Convention, or the “Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence” was signed by the UK government in 2012, but parliament has yet to ratify it.
Corbyn said it was disgraceful that a bill designed to provide greater protection to women suffering from domestic and other forms of violence has not been ratified:
“We will force this government to face up to its responsibilities on this. It is disgraceful that the bill hasn’t been ratified, and it’s a shame it takes a private member’s bill in parliament to do it.”
Corbyn said Labour would not allow the bill to be stifled further by filibustering on the Tory right “who will try and talk the bill out to avoid voting on something important.”
The government has said it has concerns about elements of the convention that infringe upon local legal jurisdictions.
It is likely that the bill will pass today, moving on to be considered by a committee.
In his closing remarks, Corbyn urged for people to not stand by and allow far right rhetoric to go unchecked: “None of us are going to stand by and watch the far right in Europe gain strength, we’re not going to allow UKIP to run around this country dividing people blaming minorities blaming migrants, blaming anybody except a system of grotesque inequality, that the poorest have to bare the biggest price for.”
Corbyn stuck around after his speech to hand out bottles of beer called “Corbyn’s Courage” to those who took part at the event.
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