The General Election is fast approaching, with just over one week for us to decide who should be running the nation. All political parties agree there is a social care crisis which needs to be reverted. Conservative, Green, Labour and Lib Democrats Parties all have included pledges on increasing availability of social care for the elder people, aged over 65 years. For the working aged people needing free social care at the point of need, its bad news one will have to wait. For those who hope to escape the social care charging, the only policies mentioned are that home owners will not be required to sell their home or a £100,000 cap would be introduced by the Conservative and Labour Parties. he Labour Party whilst introducing a right to independent living under UNCRPD Article 19 has no immediate plans to create a national independent living service. Whilst the Labour Party talks about giving effect to UNCRPD including article 19, this time round, the commitment to incorporate the full convention into domestic law has been dropped from the 2019 manifesto. The Green Party on the other hand will legislate for disabled peoples’ right to independent living and the full incorporation of UNCRPD into domestic legislation. But the Green Party’s policy focus on providing older people with free home care whilst legislating for disabled people’s right to independent living is incompatible with the UNCRPD Article 19 as it’s non-discriminatory. he Lib Dems are the only party that have given us a clue how the extra money would be raised to provide a sustainable health and social care service, through increasing income tax by 1% in addition to having a dedicated social care text. Alongside increasing tax, the Lib Dems would set up an Independent budget monitoring body for health and social care that will report on the sustainability of health and social care spending on a three years basis.
What is interesting is that all the political parties have included various measures and commitments to increase social care provision for people with autism and learning difficulties with the aim of reducing the numbers of people being detained in assessment and treatment units and psychiatric hospitals. All parties said they will either amend current mental health legislation to include independent Mental Health Act’s report recommendations or look to the UNCRPD to formulate policy around moving people with learning difficulties and autism out of ATUs into the community. However, the Mental Health Act independent review recommendations are inadequate for making the mental health law compatible with the UNCRPD human rights requirements around non-compulsory treatment in ATUs. The Lib Dems are the only party advocating for the closure of ATUS.
All the political parties are sticking to similar policies, that being their focus is on improving free social care for older people and making a commitment to increase community care provision with the aim of reducing the institutionalisation of people with learning difficulties and autism. It is almost as thou only providing extra money to social care alone will itself remove many of the barriers that disabled people face in enjoying the same degree of autonomy which non-disabled people take for granted. There is little said by the political parties on how they would make the 12 pillars of independent living is a reality for all. For example, there is no commitment of a fully inclusive education, housing, transport, employment system for disabled people. Further, there is little said about improving the direct payments and personal budgets processes that would enable disabled people to live independent lives.
I can’t end without a mention of BREXIT. Whilst Lib Dems, Conservatives and Green Party are divided on BREXIT, Labour have decided to have no policy approach which will no doubt lead to further years of palysis where dealing with the crises in independent living for disabled people will continue for the foreseeable future.
It is no accident that the focus is on the older people, they are more likely than the younger generation to go out and vote in the General Elections. If we are really going to see positive policies for the working age and younger generation then we need to urge them to go out and use their vote