Category Archives: Labour Party

The association has been affiliated to the Labour Party nationally since at least 1934, when our President, Somerville Hastings, the first doctor to appear at a Labour Party Conference, proposed the resolution which committed the Party to establish a free National Health Service.

We are one of 20 affiliated socialist societies. We are entitled to send two delegates to the Labour Party national conference, and one delegate to the Women’s and Youth conference. Although we do not require all our members to be in the Labour Party any delegates to any party bodies must be party members, and live in the relevant constituency.

For most purposes the party puts the societies in the same category as the affiliated unions. So at conference our card votes are generally counted with theirs – and are therefore negligible.  The societies meet regularly together, and we have 3 delegates elected by societies to the National Policy Forum and a representative, James Asser, on the National Executive Committee.   Because most of the societies are very small we have for many years agreed to jointly nominate people chosen on the basis of one society one vote.  We are entitled to send an observer to the NPF if we are not among the 3 delegates.

We pay a national affiliation fee of £1.25 per member, £945 last year, which covers the whole UK.

We are entitled to affiliate to regional Labour parties, but they expect us to pay affiliation fees to them which vary between £200 and £50 calculated on a formula which often is based on an assumption that we have a minimum of 1000 members in the region.  That entitles us to attend their conference and there is a place on the regional executive for a socialist society representative. Wales and Scotland operate in a manner analogous to the English regions, and we have to pay additionally to affiliate there. They have their own conferences and policy making structures for devolved matters.  The socialist societies have two gender balanced seats on the Welsh Executive.

Local Campaign Forums exist at what were once called county level and at city level. In principle socialist societies could have a place on these forums.  These cover areas which, more or less, map to NHS health economies in England, so are potentially of interest to us, but their composition does not appear to be nationally mandated.

We are entitled to send up to 5 delegates to each Constituency Labour Party, so long as we have that many members in the constituency unless there is a different basis of representation agreed by the NEC in that constituency.  We have to pay an affiliation fee of £6.  This is significant in constituencies which operate on a delegate structure, but less so in those which operate on all member meetings.

The Association does not have any rights in respect of ward branch Labour parties.

These arrangements may be altered as a result of the party’s Democracy Review.

Labour party constituencies, Labour groups or any other organisations can affiliate to the Association.  The affiliation fee for local organisations  is £25 and for small national organisations £125.  Larger organisations pay a larger fee by agreement.  The benefits of membership, in particular, reduced rates for our events, and inclusion on our mailing lists are extended to any member of an affiliated organisation who wants them.  This currently includes Unison, Unite, GMB, and a number of Constituency Labour Parties and union branches.

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The Labour National Policy Forum was held in Leeds 18- 20th February

Alex Scott Samuel and myself attended the Labour Policy Forum as observers for the SHA.

The commencement of the proceedings was on an internal matter, which meant that an excellent speech by Jeremy Corbyn was delayed, and there was no Q&A session.  As it turned out we had lost so much time we worked through the coffee breaks in our breakout sessions, listening to some excellent ideas, and some which had been in circulation for decades.   Alex and I were particularly interested in local communities and health inequalities, and other health and care related subjects.

Altogether there were 8 headings for the breakout sessions, and a plenary session on health with speakers Jonathan Ashworth, MP Shadow Health Secretary, and Sharon Hodgson MP, Shadow Minister for Public Health.  On Sunday afternoon there was a panel on Brexit.

I have a copy of each of the briefing papers as follows and could send it as a Document if anyone would like to see what the present thinking is. I understand a report will be issued, which I will circulate when received.

International

Health and Social care

Work Pensions and Equality

Housing, Local Government and Transport

Justice and Home Affairs

Environment Energy and Culture

Economy, Business and Trade

Early Years, Education and Skills

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“It’s about including people – as simple as that. Let’s be a shining example of equality in action – it’s what we’re all about isn’t it?!”

The Equality Act 2010 places statutory duties on political parties. It covers:

  • Branches, constituencies, regional and national structures,
  • Staff, officers, candidates, representatives and volunteers,
  • Services to members including meetings, events and campaigns,
  • Political activities, and
  • Positive action.

The duties under the Act are continuing. They are not about doing something once. The duty to make reasonable adjustments for disabled people is anticipatory. It is not about waiting for a disabled person to ask for changes to be made. It’s very important that officers, representatives, volunteers and staff fully understand how they need to function under the Equality Act.

When this document mentions the Party, it means all Party structures, officers, staff, candidates, representatives and volunteers.

All information in the first section of this handbook is taken from guidance provided by the Human Rights and Equalities Commission.

We are indebted to barrister Catherine Casserley of Cloisters Chambers (cloisters, com) for her pro bono work on this document.

Disability Equality ACT Labour (DEAL), formerly the Party Participation and Disabled People Group, is the campaign for Labour Party compliance with the disability elements of the Equality Act 2010.

The Equality Act 2010 and the Labour Party.

The Equality Act makes it unlawful for anyone acting on behalf of the Labour Party (or any political party) to discriminate against people with protected characteristics. Being a disabled person is a protected characteristic. The other characteristics are age, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, race, religion or belief, sex and sexual orientation.

The purposes of the Equality Act can be summarised using the acronym FEAT:

  • Fostering good relations between those with protected characteristics and others.
  • Eliminating discrimination.
  • Advancing equality of opportunities.
  • Tackling prejudice.

The Act preserved the principle of “more favourable treatment” even when it means treating others less favourably. This is unique to disabled people and does not apply to other protected characteristics.

The Party has an obligation to provide reasonable adjustments. If it fails to do so, it is guilty of unlawful discrimination.

It also means the Party must create a comfortable, dignified environment for disabled people. If it fails to do so, it is guilty of harassment. If it fails to do so even when a disabled person isn’t present, it could be guilty of harassment by association.

In addition to the main body of the Act  the following sections apply:

Actions or inactions that result in discrimination against physically disabled people may sometimes be obvious, but that is far from always the case. That is why it’s important to ask people what adjustments they need rather than making assumptions.

Actions or inactions that result in discrimination against people with mental health related impairments or neurological disorders is often about assumed norms within the Party or in wider society. For example, if a branch said that someone could not join, or be a prospective candidate, because they were always late to meetings; and the reason they were late was because their medication made them sluggish in the evenings; and their medication was for a mental health issue, this would be discrimination because of something arising in consequence of disability. This would be discrimination unless the treatment could be justified on other grounds, or the branch did not know that they were disabled.

The Equality Act applies even when Party services, events, campaigns, membership or associate membership are free.

Everyone who is carrying out a function for the Party, including staff, officers, candidates, representatives and volunteer activists, are subject to the Equality Act.

Members of branches, constituencies, regions or national structures cannot override their duties under the Equality Act by voting to act in a way that would put the Party in breach of the Act, or by omitting to do something that would put them in breach of the Act. Chairs of Party structures must rule any such vote results null and void.

Diagram shows a red circle with the Party logo inside. Text in the circle reads: the problems are Party rules, norms and perceptions. Around the outside of the circle are arrows pointing outwards to the issues faced by disabled members in the Party. The issues surround the circle. They are grouped as follows: Rules include: systems, structures, processes, strategies, services, and communication. Perceptions include: assumptions, discrimination, attitudes, disbelief, harassment, stereotyping, prejudice and apathy. Norms include: venues, transport, language, immediacy, the outside, the unknown. At the bottom is a text box that reads: using the Social Model of Disability we see the exclusion disabled members face is caused by the way the Party is run and organised

Discrimination

There are four different types of unlawful discrimination that apply to disability:

Unlawful discrimination can take a number of different forms:

  • The Labour Party must ensure all activities open to members, officers, candidates, councillors or MPs are accessible to disabled members, officers, candidates, councillors or MPs. If they do not, it is direct discrimination.
  • It must not do something to a disabled member in a way that has a worse impact on them and other disabled people than it has on other people. Unless the Party can show that what they have done is objectively justified, this is indirect discrimination. Doing something can include making a decision, or applying a rule or way of doing things.
  • The Labour Party must not treat disabled members in an inferior way because they incorrectly think they are a disabled person.
  • It must not treat disabled members badly or victimise them because they have complained about discrimination or helped someone else complain or done anything to uphold their own or someone else’s equality law rights.

Unlawful discrimination is based on treatment that is meted out because of or related to disability. It is not limited to behaviour, rules or ways of doing things that only impact only on a disabled person. For example, if a non-disabled person, perhaps a personal assistant, carer, family member or supporter, is treated badly because of their association with a disabled person, or because it had been assumed they were a disabled person, they will have been unlawfully discriminated against.

Harassment

Harassment is not only about bullying. Harassment is any conduct that violates a disabled person’s dignity or creates an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for any disabled person.

Harassment is focussed on the environment the Party creates in branches, constituencies or any Party structure, activity, campaign or meeting. It doesn’t just cover verbal abuse, but it could be, for example, the atmosphere created at a meeting when someone is asking for adjustments.

Harassment is based on treatment that is meted out because of or related to disability. It is not limited to behaviour or conduct directed to any disabled person. For example, if a non-disabled person is in a room and hears such conduct they will have witnessed harassment and ideally, will put in a formal complaint about the incident.

Reasonable adjustments

The duty to make reasonable adjustments is an anticipatory duty. The Labour Party must not wait until a disabled person wants to join or participate in meetings, activities, events or campaigns or stand as a branch or CLP officer or as a candidate. The Party is required to think in advance about what people with a range of impairments might reasonably need, such as people who have a reading impairment, a mental health impairment, a sensory impairment, a neurological impairment, a mobility impairment or a learning disability.

The Party must think about reasonable adjustments for disabled members, associate members, guests, and disabled people who are:

  • seeking or might seek to become members, or
  • likely to become guests.

A continuing duty

The duty to make reasonable adjustments is a continuing duty. It is not something to be considered once and then forgotten.

If a disabled person wants to participate in Party activities, events, campaigns or meetings or stand for office but finds barriers not previously identified, then the Party needs to think about reasonable adjustments. This applies whether or not it has already made any adjustments.

If the Party changes what it does, the way that it does it or where, then it needs to review the adjustments it has made. What was originally a reasonable step to take might no longer be enough.

The Equality Act duty contains three requirements that apply in situations where disabled people would otherwise be placed at a substantial disadvantage compared with people who are not disabled. These are called reasonable adjustments.

Changing the way things are done.

The Party has rules and ways of doing things, both written and unwritten, that can present barriers to disabled people. These barriers put disabled people at substantial disadvantage and even stop some people participating in events, activities, campaigns or meetings altogether.

Making changes to premises.

Where a physical feature puts disabled people at substantial disadvantage, the Party must take reasonable steps to:

  • remove the feature;
  • alter it so that it no longer has that effect;
  • provide a reasonable means of avoiding the feature; or
  • provide a reasonable alternative way of making the service available to disabled people.

It is better for the Party to look at removing or altering the physical feature or finding a way of avoiding it (such as replacing steps with a ramp or, if it is reasonable for it to do this, a lift) before it looks at providing an alternative service. An alternative service may not give disabled people a similar level of service.

Providing aids and services.

These might include:

  • providing equipment like hearing loops,
  • allowing personal assistants or other support staff or volunteers to attend meetings, events and activities with individual disabled people,
  • online meetings,
  • online voting,
  • giving people additional time to think about decisions at meetings,
  • delaying decisions for later online votes,
  • papers in different formats,
  • papers sent out further in advance than usual, or
  • job sharing by elected officers.

The Party must take reasonable steps to provide aids or services if they would enable or make it easier for disabled people to participate in events, activities campaigns or meetings or to stand for election.

Are disabled people at a substantial disadvantage?

The Equality Act defines disabled people as having a physical or mental impairment that has a ‘substantial’ and ‘long-term’ negative effect on their ability to do normal daily activities.

The Act covers conditions like dyslexia, sensory impairments, neurological conditions, personality disorders, severe disfigurements, HIV, cancer, multiple sclerosis, depression and anxiety and many more.

What is meant by ‘reasonable’?

When deciding whether an adjustment is reasonable the Labour Party can consider:

  • how effective the change will be in assisting disabled people in general or a particular member;
  • whether it can actually be done;
  • the cost; and
  • the Party’s resources and size.

The Party can consider whether an adjustment is practical. The easier an adjustment is, the more likely it is to be reasonable. However, just because something is difficult doesn’t mean it can’t also be reasonable. If an adjustment costs little or nothing and is not disruptive, it would be reasonable. In deciding if cost is a factor, the Party’s resources must be looked at across the whole organisation. This means, if a branch, constituency or other individual structure can’t afford an adjustment, that cannot be used as a reason not to provide it. It is only if the Party as a whole could not afford an adjustment that cost would come into it.

Who pays for an adjustment?

If an adjustment is reasonable, the Party must pay for it. Disabled people must not be asked to pay for it.

Where councillors, MPs and other elected individuals or staff receive remuneration from the Party to cover administrative and campaigning expenses, the cost of any reasonable adjustments must not form part of that remuneration. This would place disabled representatives or staff at a disadvantage when compared to other representatives or staff and would therefore be discriminatory.

Political activities

The law applies to parties at a national, regional, constituency and local level and to people working for them or making decisions about the party’s membership and activities, whether paid or unpaid.

The Labour Party must not:

  • refuse membership to disabled prospective members or grant membership on less favourable terms because of impairments; or
  • offer membership terms, benefits or services that are discriminatory, whether that is direct or indirect discrimination.

This includes activities that are directly related to political activity, such as meetings, events, activities and campaigns. Conditions put on membership or participation, such as door knocking as a requirement for becoming a candidate, are likely to be discriminatory.

Reasonable adjustments for political activities may include provision of an online option at meetings or allowing extra time for decisions to be taken rather than taking decisions solely at meetings.

Membership

The Labour Party must make reasonable adjustments for disabled people in selection processes, elections to branch and Constituency office and in how members, associate members and guests (and prospective members and guests) access services and enjoy membership benefits and facilities.

The aim of reasonable adjustments is to make sure that disabled people are able to join the Party and participate as far as is reasonably possible to the same standard offered to non-disabled people.

Positive action.

Equality law enables the Labour Party to take positive action for any of the protected characteristics. This means the Party could, for example, have physical or online meetings or ongoing forums specifically for disabled members, specify that Disability Officers become voting members on Executive Committees, employ disabled staff to provide support for disabled members at regional and national level, and require all information and publicity materials be approved by disabled members.

Changes to selection arrangements could include steps the Party takes to:

  • encourage prospective disabled candidates to come forward, for example, by holding an event just for them or writing just to disabled members;
  • increase disabled candidates’ prospects of being selected, for example, by giving public speaking training only to disabled members;
  • identify suitable disabled candidates, for example, by reducing the time disabled people have to have been Party members to be allowed to stand for election;
  • Reserving places on electoral candidates shortlist for disabled members; or
  • having disabled members only electoral candidates shortlists.

Standards of behaviour

Sometimes, how someone behaves is linked to the impairment they have. For example, the behaviour of people with Tourette’s Syndrome or those with Asperger’s, Autism, Borderline Personality Disorder or other mental health or neurological disorders can seem unacceptable or disturbing to those who do not understand these impairments.

Standards of behaviour that have a worse impact on people with a particular impairment than on people who do not have that impairment, must be objectively justified. Otherwise, it is indirect discrimination.

The Party must make reasonable adjustments for standards of behaviour to avoid discrimination arising from a specific impairment.

Monitoring

The Party can decide to monitor the number of disabled members it has, but if the Party asks you about your disability, you do not have to answer if you prefer not to.

When monitoring the number of disabled members the Party has, and the reasonable adjustments that may be required, the Party should include people with physical or learning impairments, chronic illnesses and mental health conditions.

Impairments can be acquired at any stage of a person’s life. The continuing duty means that cyclical disability and reasonable adjustment requirements monitoring is appropriate.

Authors:

  • Kathy Bole
  • Emily Brothers
  • Sarah-Jane Brownlie
  • Catherine Casserley
  • Lesley Farrington
  • Henry Foulds
  • Marta Gave
  • Rory Heap
  • Lorraine Harding
  •  Matthew Luke
  • David R S Martin
  • Craig Potter
  • Nikki Ratcliffe
  • Rachel Salmon
  • Fran Springfield
  • Sophie Talbot
  • Sarah Taylor
  • Rona Lisa Topaz
  • Dave Townsend
  • Ruth White

For Disability Equality ACT Labour.

Campaigning document: It’s our Party – Let us in!

This is our campaigning document proposing ways the Party can improve its disability equality performance.

A circle with a map of the world contains the text: The problem is the disabling world. Arrows point outwards from the circle to the barriers put in the way of people with impairments. The Barriers are: Badly design buildings. Stairs not ramps. No lifts. Special schools. Few sign language interpreters. Discrimination. Inaccessible transport. No parking places. Isolated families. Poor job prospects. A text box at the bottom reads: The Social Model of Disability states that the oppression and exclusion people with impairments face is caused by the way society is run and managed

The Equality Act covers each Labour Party branch and CLP as well as every other Party structure. Party structures must not directly or indirectly discriminate; they must ensure all disabled members are able to participate in decision-making, meetings, events, campaigns, standing for office and other activities.

To comply with the Act, Party structures need to identify their disabled members, ask what reasonable adjustments they require and make those adjustments.

Many disabled members are excluded from Party activities, events and decision ­making processes. Some have experienced branches refusing direct requests to make reasonable adjustments. Further, elected officers of Party structures have argued against making reasonable adjustments such as online participation at meetings, or being accompanied to meetings by a carer or personal assistant who may or may not be a Party member, because they require changes to internal custom and practice.

Party structures are not routinely asking what reasonable adjustments disabled members require. When discussing what comprises a reasonable adjustment, many elected officers of Party structures do not understand the issue beyond basic physical changes like ramps for wheelchair users. Little, if any, attempt is being made to use technology and the internet to enable people to access their right to participate.

Many CLPs do not have a Disability Co-ordinator/Officer and there is no equivalent of Party Women’s and BAME Forums or Youth Labour.

Previous Party guidance has attempted to address the Equality Act duties, but this guidance is not being followed. Previous attempts to correct this situation have not succeeded.

Disability equality training for elected officers in Party structures is not currently a requirement.

To comply with the Act elected officers of all Party structures need to be aware of the legal requirements placed on them, and have a good enough working understanding of the ramifications of those requirements.

In order to tackle stigma, The Labour Party should hold itself to more inclusive standards than current practice in wider society, rather than lagging behind. The authors of this document aim to ensure Labour Party compliance with Equality Act duties, informed by current good practice and past Party guidance, is firmly built into Party rules, guidance, systems and structures. We recognise that the Labour Party, as the party of equality, must take the lead in enabling full participation by disabled members.

Monitoring

The only way to identify what reasonable adjustments we need to make is to ask disabled members what they require. Existing disabled members need to be asked in a one off survey, whilst new disabled members need to be asked as they join. Elected officers of Party structures can find contact details of their disabled members from the Party membership database.

If a request is made to make an adjustment to custom or practice that elected officers do not understand, they will need to go back to the individual making the request to discuss their exact requirements and how they can best be provided. Debating whether these adjustments should be made is inappropriate. Consultation is vital, and no elected officer should act on an assumption that they know what is best for anyone.

Party structures should use the following questionnaire which will be made available in print and online in a format suitable for screen reading software, in plain English and Easy English with images suitable for people with dyslexia or learning difficulties, and as an audio described file:

Your response to this questionnaire will enable us to meet our duties under in the Equality Act 2010. Please complete and return to …

  • Name:
  • Membership number:
  • Do you identify as disabled? Yes/No.
  • Do you have an impairment &/or a long term (physical or mental health) concern which impacts on your day-to-day life? Yes/No.
  • Do you have a disabled family member or friend who you live with or provide some assistance to? Yes/No.
  • Are you satisfied with the way we notify you about meetings, events and other activities?
  • If no, how should we change this?
  • Are you satisfied with the way we provide print and online materials?
  • If no, how would you prefer us to do this?
  • Are you able to understand and participate in meetings, events and other activities?
  • If no, what should we do to change this?
  • Are there any other ways we can enable to you participate?
  • If you would like to make any other comments, please add them here:

Any personal information gathered on an individual will be covered by the General Data Protection Regulations which come into effect in May 2018 or before then, the Data Protection Act, and should be treated as confidential unless otherwise agreed with the individual.

CLP development plans should set specific goals towards achieving equality for disabled people. For example monitoring the number of disabled candidates, venues where access audits have been undertaken or meetings where full online participation has been made available. These goals are quantifiable and can be used to monitor progress periodically.

Disability equality training for elected officers of Party structures.

On being put forward for election all potential elected officers of Party structures should be supplied with Party guidance on compliance with the Equality Act, including these proposals.

After election, all disability officers, chairs, secretaries and delegates to conference should be required to attend disability equality training provided by appropriately experienced disabled members so that they can avoid discriminatory actions, omissions or statements.

An inclusion day, open to all members, should be held each year to provide training and opportunities for debate.

Funding

A National Inclusion Fund to which all CLPs can apply for funding equipment which will enable all members with a disability to be able to access all CLP activities. This may include items such as; hearing loops, paying fora BSL signer to be present at meetings, equipment to privately video-cast meetings. (This list is not exhaustive and is to be used to provide guidance only.)

The Fund to be overseen in each Region by Disability Officers and/or disabled people acting as Disability Ambassadors who will be able to advise constituencies on their duties under the Equality Act 2010.

Disability officers

All CLPs should elect a Disability Officer. CLP Disability Officers should automatically become CLP Executive members. Disability Officers should be respresented regionally, at the National Policy Forum, the NEC and all regional and national party structures.

Service Audits

Elected officers of Party structures to be required to carry out an annual audit of the events, meetings and activities to see how disabled people have been enabled to participate.

Elected officers should use the results of the audits to make legally required reasonable adjustments.

Each Party structure to produce an annual report detailing results of Accessibility Questionnaires, audits and reasonable adjustments that have been, or are planned to be, made. These reports to be made available to all members in print and online in a format suitable for screen reading software, in plain English and Easy English with images suitable for people with dyslexia or learning difficulties, and as an audio described file.

Accountability and transparency

Constituencies to produce annual reports compiled from their branches. These reports to be made available to all members in print and online in a format suitable for screen reading software, in plain English and Easy English with images suitable for people with dyslexia or learning difficulties, and as an audio described file.

The NEC to produce an annual report compiled from CLP reports and reports of all other structures. This report to be made available to all members in print and online in a format suitable for screen reading software, in plain English and Easy English with images suitable for people with dyslexia or learning difficulties, and as an audio described file.

Campaigning

Disability Equality ACT Labour is campaigning internally-within the Labour Party- for change. It is vital that all Party structures comply with their legal obligations at the very least, and quickly.

Campaigning is a key activity of CLPs and the Party as a whole. All campaigning activities must be made inclusive and accessible. A model of inclusive and accessible campaigning needs to be produced and used by all Party structures. There is the resource, talent and skill set within our movement to be innovative in our approach.

Electoral slates

Electoral slates are potentially disciminatory because of the danger of not including openly disabled candidates. Slates can be barriers to disabled members standing, substantially weakening the possibility of disabled members being elected to key positions. Careful thought needs to be given to the equality ramifications of slates.

Complaints

Members’ health and impairments should be taken into account when a member has a complaint about the behaviour of other members. Disabled members are often vulnerable and their health can be severely affected by the complaints process to a greater extent than for other members. Complaints from disabled members should be vigorously investigated and pastoral support be given throughout.

Unacceptable language

Comments like “playing the disabled card” made by members against disabled members should be as unacceptable as “playing the female, racist or LGBTQ+ cards” are.

Loss of income

Disabled members in receipt of benefits put themselves at risk of losing income should they stand for office or as a candidate. The Party needs to address this as a matter of urgency.

A Disabled Members Section.

The Party should actively encourage disabled members to set up a section in the same format as the Women and BAME members.

A firm footing.

When these proposals are bedded into the Party, we will be in a position to use our experience of implementing good practice to strengthen our position on equalities and campaign on a firmer footing.

A circle contains the text: The problem is the disabled person. Arrows point inwards towards the circle from the problems presented by the disabled person. The problems are: Is housebound. Confined to a wheelchair. Can't walk. Can't get up steps. Can't see or hear. Is sick. Is looking for a cure. Has fits. Needs help and carers. A text box at the bottom reads: This is a diagram of the Traditional Medical Model of Disability which the Social Model was developed to challenge

 

© Disability Equality ACT Labour 2018.

Download the full version of the document and  alternative formats from disabilityequalityactlabour.org

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The NHS Accountable Care System contracts announced on 7 August impose a basis for 44+ local health services to replace England’s NHS. This has bypassed Parliamentary debate and due legislative process.

On 9 August, the House of Commons Library revealed a doubling of the number of NHS sites being sold off. 117 of these currently provide clinical services. Like their US templates, Accountable Care Systems will provide limited services on restricted budgets, replacing NHS hospitals with deskilled community units. This will worsen health indicators like the long term increase in life expectancy, stalled since 2010.The Accountable Care Systems and asset sell-off result directly from the 5 Year Forward View  currently being implemented via Sustainability and Transformation Partnerships. The 5 Year Forward View precisely reflects healthcare multinationals’ global policy aims.

Labour opposes Accountable Care Systems. New legal opinion finds Sustainability and Transformation Partnerships lack any legal powers or status under the 2012 Act: yet they seek through bureaucratic means to eliminate or override the already minimal remaining level of local accountability and democratic control over NHS commissioning and provision. They could eliminate remaining statutory powers and rights of local authorities, commissioners and providers. Many of these also outline plans to establish ‘Accountable Care Systems’.

Conference condemns the current Tory NHS pay cap for all staff and the scrapping of the university training bursary for health Students as significant contributors to the current staffing crisis.

Conference welcomes the commitments made in the Labour manifesto to scrap the pay cap for NHS staff.This Conference Calls on our Party to restore our NHS by reversing All privatisation and permanently halting Sustainability and Transformation Partnerships and Accountable Care Systems. Labour is committed to an NHS which is publicly funded, publicly provided and publicly accountable. We therefore call on the Party to oppose and reverse funding cuts meeting Western European levels.

Conference opposes 5 Year Forward View policy:

  • downskilling clinical staff;
  • Tory cuts to the NHS including the Capped Expenditure Process;
  • the sell-off of NHS sites;
  • reclassifying NHS services as means-tested social care;
  • cementing the private sector role as Accountable Care Systems partners and as combined health/social care service providers.
  • replacing 7500 GP surgeries with 1500 “superhubs”.

Conference recognises that reversing this process demands more than amending the 2012 Health & Social Care Act and calls for our next manifesto to include existing Party policy to restore our fully-funded, comprehensive, universal, publicly-provided and owned NHS without user charges, as per the NHS Bill (2016-17).

Conference opposes the Naylor Reports call for a fire-sale of NHS assets and instead resolves that the next Labour government will invest at least £10 billion in the capital needs of the NHS.

Conference therefore calls on all sections of the Party to join with patients, health-workers, trade unions and all other NHS supporters to campaign for:

  • increasing recruitment and training
  • an NHS that is publicly owned, funded, provided and accountable;
  • urgent reductions in waiting-times;
  • adequate funding for all services, including mental health services
  • tackling the causes of ill-health, e.g. austerity, poverty and poor housing, via a properly funded public health programme,
  • reversing privatisation, PFIs and the debts which they entail;
  • reversing private involvement in NHS management and provision;
  • recognition of the continuing vital NHS role of EU nationals;
  • Constructive engagement with NHS staff-organisations
  • rejecting the Tories Sustainability & Transformation Plans as vehicles for cuts in services;
  • urgent reductions in waiting-times;
  • scrapping the Tories’ austerity cap on pay-levels;
  • restoration of NHS student bursaries;
  • excluding NHS from free trade agreements and repeal and reverse the 2012 Act, to reinstate and reintegrate the NHS as a public service, publicly provided, and strengthen democratic accountability.

Conference welcomes Labour’s commitment to making child health a national priority, including investment in children’s and adolescents’ mental health services.

Labour created our NHS. Labour must now defend it

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Membership list

HM Opposition

  • Jonathan Ashworth MP
  • Barbara Keeley MP
  • Justin Madders MP
  • Sharon Hodgson MP

NEC

  • Keith Birch
  • Paddy Lillis
  • Pauline McCarthy
  • Darren Williams

CLPs and Regions

  • Tony Beddow
  • Mark Dempsey
  • Joanne Harding
  • Linda Hobson
  • Donna Hutton
  • Mariam Khan
  • Rory Palmer
  • Karen Reay
  • Joanne Rust
  • Joyce Still
  • Jacqueline Taylor

Affiliates

  • Cheryl Barrott
  • Gail Cartmail
  • Jennifer Elliott
  • Mary Hutchinson
  • Eleanor Smith

Elected Reps

  • Luciana Berger MP
  • Huw David
  • Catherine McKinnell MP

Policy Development

The Health and Care Policy Commission is responsible for developing policy in a number of areas which include the future of the NHS, social care, mental health and public health. The Commission looked at a number of issues this year, including NHS performance and finances, social care and public health. The  NHS workforce, Brexit and the Conservatives’ Sustainability and Transformation Plans were also discussed. Concerns were raised about damaging Government policies relating to the NHS and social care and the negative impact this Government is having on performance, patients and NHS staff.

At Annual Conference 2016, a policy seminar was held with delegates in order to talk about a variety of issues with the Health and Care Policy Commission and members of the shadow health team. Keith Birch (NEC co-convener) chaired the session and gave an update of the work of the policy commission. He also gave a short summary of the work which had been carried out by the Commission over the previous months on their priority issue document, which focussed on
mental health.

Then Shadow Health Secretary, Diane Abbott and Justin Madders, Shadow Health Minister updated delegates on the work of the Health team. Diane shared delegates’ concerns about funding for mental health and high treatment thresholds resulting in people missing out on the care they need. Justin updated delegates about  NHS performance, stressing that Tory failure has led to NHS Trusts struggling to meet some key targets, such as ambulance response times and A&E waiting times. He addressed the challenges facing the NHS workforce, including the Tories’ decision to scrap nurse bursaries, and GP recruitment and retention with delegates.

At the seminar, there was a lively exchange between delegates which encompassed wide ranging topics and views. A number of issues were raised including carers and their pay. Delegates talked about NHS funding and agreed that the NHS cannot be a low-cost service, but needs to be funded adequately in order to meet growing
needs. Other issues examined were the NHS workforce, including concerns about the level of money being spent on agency nurses. Justin Madders agreed with delegates that this is not an effective way of paying for the workforce, that staff should be recruited directly and that the NHS should not be forced to rely on agency nurses to fill gaps. It was clear that many delegates were worried about conditions for NHS staff and were concerned about the status of EU workers in our health and social care system amid concerns that without these workers, the system would be on the verge of collapse.

Delegates were keen to talk about social care and the high levels of delayed discharges from hospital. Another key issue which was raised was the Sustainability and Transformation Plans (STPs), with some delegates concerned that these plans are being decided under the radar and could lead to cuts to services in certain areas. The use of Private Finance Initiatives (PFI) was also raised, as well as how to deal with existing debt. It was noted that regarding the issue of PFI, it is critical to get
things right, and that lessons need to be learnt. Neuroscience, childhood obesity and equality and diversity in the NHS workforce were also raised.

National Policy Forum representatives met in Loughborough on the weekend of 19 and 20 November 2016 to discuss the challenges facing Britain. They attended a number of sessions over the course of the weekend to consider priorities for the consultation process for the coming year and to share views from members received on a wide range of issues. Key issues raised were NHS funding and growing financial deficits in NHS Trusts. Representatives underlined that the sustainability of our NHS depends on adequate funding, and addressing drivers of healthcare spending, especially the crisis in social care and poor public health. Representatives also discussed the social care system, the demands on which they felt had dramatically changed since the system was developed and how the funding system must change to adapt to it. There were also calls for a focus on improving standards in social care for both recipients and staff. Public health was also identified as a key challenge, particularly in the face of cuts to services. There was a general agreement that the prevention agenda should be prioritised and that action should be taken to tackle health inequalities. Mental health, an issue which members have highlighted as a priority through submissions and discussions, was also examined, in particular the funding of services and the lack of services for young people. Following the meeting in November, a document was produced summarising the priorities outlined at the NPF meeting. These priorities formed the basis of the consultation document produced by the Commission and published in March.

The newly constituted Health and Care Commission met for the first time in January. Jonathan Ashworth, Shadow Health Secretary, spoke about the crisis in the NHS, the Government’s failure to meet key performance targets, the pay cap on NHS workers and the impact Brexit could have on the health and social care workforce. Sharon Hodgson, Shadow Public Health Minister focussed her update on three issues: funding, prevention and services. She also spoke about the Government’s childhood obesity plan and the 62 day cancer target. Barbara Keeley, Shadow Cabinet Member for Social Care and Mental Health updated policy commission members on the situation facing social care, including cuts to funding and high levels of delayed transfers of care. She also touched on challenges for the social care system with regard to workforce. She also spoke about mental health, and members of the commission were concerned that Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) are not using funding correctly to support Children and Young Persons mental health. Justin Madders, Shadow Health Minister, gave an update on patient safety, A&E and Sustainability and Transformation Plans (STPs). Workforce issues were also underlined as being key to the challenges faced by services, including the uncertainty of Brexit. Commission members believed that there was a need for a proactive approach to be taken in the run up to winter, rather than waiting for a crisis to happen in our NHS. There were concerns that there is a general lack of transparency when it comes to Sustainability and Transformation Plans and that these need to be scrutinised closely. Pressures in the NHS, including in maternity services, and rationing were also raised as concerns, as well as the risk of losing funding streams from the EU which currently provide funding for health research.

Commission members were keen to stress how NHS and social care are key priorities for the Party and held a dedicated discussion on NHS finances. This had been identified by the NPF and commission members as a key issue for discussion this year. Members considered the fact that the NHS is facing its biggest financial squeeze in history and that that head for head NHS funding will be cut next year. Jonathan Ashworth talked about the Government’s aim to find £22 billion of savings
in the NHS, and also made reference to the £8 billion pledged by the Government, explaining that this figure has been widely discredited and is a misrepresentation of the funding actually going into the NHS in England. There was acknowledgement from Commission members that NHS funding is a key issue which would need to be further explored over the course of meetings and evidence sessions. Over the course of the meeting, some clear themes for further consideration emerged, which included social care, funding of services and public health. The NHS composite adopted at Annual Conference 2016 was tabled at the meeting and members examined
the wide range of issues included in the composite. These included the reversal of NHS bursaries, stopping creeping privatisation in the health service and Labour’s commitment to a publicly owned NHS, free at the point of use.

At the Commission meeting in February, Barbara Keeley led a dedicated session specifically focussing on social care, an issue which has been a priority for the Commission throughout the year and which many submissions have reflected upon. She raised concerns relating to social care funding detailing how the current level of funding is not allowing local government to meet their legal duties in relation to care. There was a general discussion regarding the social care precept and how money is raised for social care as well as carers pay and EU nationals working in the care sector. There was a general agreement that health and social care cannot be looked at separately and that a wider discussion needs to be had on future funding of both. Commission members also raised concerns about the closures of residential and care homes, which are handing contracts back to local authorities.

The meeting also considered the first draft of the consultation paper which focussed on the priority areas of funding, social care and public health, as informed by the National Policy Forum at their meeting in November. Specifically discussed was the importance of recognising differences in health and social care policy in the devolved nations, and members felt that this was something which should be addressed in the consultation document.

The group discussed a number of submissions received including on the NHS Reinstatement Bill and access the NHS for migrants. TTIP and future possible trade deals were also raised, as were issues relating to Brexit and the health and social care workforce.

Shadow Secretary of State Jonathan Ashworth explained that the shadow health team is working hard to keep the NHS and social care prominent on the agenda, including fighting to save NHS bursaries. He also spoke about the work he has been doing to raise awareness of issues faced by children of alcoholics.

In March the Commission held a session with the leading Health charity the King’s Fund, to take evidence about the state of NHS funding and finances. During the meeting representatives tackled a wide range of issues which included deficits, NHS performance, workforce and future  funding of the health service. Commission
members were interested to examine detail about the levels of funding required in the NHS, waste in the system and privatisation. They also asked questions about the internal market in the health system and PFI, and discussed the internal market in the NHS, with particular reference to Wales. During the session, the issue of social care and its funding was discussed in depth and discussions touched on the issue of the Living Wage, which has previously been discussed by the Commission.
The Department of Health budget and workforce issues, such as the fall in GP numbers as well as in applications for nursing, formed part of the discussion. Other topical issues looked at during the course of the meeting were delayed transfers of care, social care in the community and intergenerational fairness. It was also recognised that while the focus on social care is often on older people, we should not forget that it is also important for others, for example those who suffer
from learning disabilities or autism. They also discussed Sustainability and Transformation Plans and agency staff. NHS workforce, pay for NHS workers and Brexit in the context of the NHS and its impact on workforce issues were all raised by Representatives, as was rationing. Sharon Hodgson spoke about the importance of prevention to reduce problems with alcohol, smoking and obesity. The Commission also discussed the Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) trial, a drug which can protect against HIV infection, which is due to come to an end shortly. Sharon stressed that there was a lack of Government action when it came to the childhood obesity plan.

Barbara Keeley highlighted cuts to social care and that there are 1.2 million people living with unmet care needs. She also said that there is a shortage of mental health beds, meaning that younger people often end up being treated on adult wards. Justin Madders highlighted concerns on NHS pay, and raised questions about the Five Year Forward View refresh being deliverable. The Commission considered a number of submissions which had been received including on charging for GP services.

Labour’s Manifesto

Following the announcement that a snap General Election was to be held, a teleconference meeting of the Health and Care Commission took place to discuss priorities for the manifesto. A number of key issues were outlined during the phone call including on workforce, primary care, prevention of mental health problems and child health. In the run up to the Clause V meeting to agree the manifesto, members were asked to submit their policy priorities to feed into the manifesto process.

Issues of importance outlined were the integration of health and social care systems, increased funding for the NHS and social care, boosting the training and recruitment of health professionals. Members of the Policy Commission also stressed that those health professionals in training should receive the support they need, and supported the view that Labour should pledge to reinstate the NHS bursary which the Tories have scrapped. Ideas and proposals were also received from a wide
range of stakeholders, including charities and third sector organisations. Issues ranged from improving research and development for cancer, investing in general practice and its workforce, tackling obesity and smoking, improving end of life care, and taking action to tackle loneliness.

There were a number of issues relating to the recent work of the Health and Care Commission reflected in the final manifesto. Health has always been, and will remain to be, a key issue for the Labour Party, and the content of the manifesto clearly demonstrated this.

Throughout the year, a key issue which was discussed at meetings and reflected in submissions was the Government’s Sustainability and Transformation Plans (STPs). Members of the Commission were instrumental in raising this issue and key to ensuring that the manifesto committed to halting and reviewing the STPs. They were keen to make sure that local people should be asked to participate in the redrawing of plans with a focus on patient need rather than available finances.

The Commission were keen for the manifesto to tackle issues relating to NHS and social care staff. The document did this, pledging to scrap the NHS pay cap, guarantee the rights of EU staff working in our health and care services, to legislate for safe staffing levels in the NHS and to ensure a proper living wage for care workers – all issues on which the Commission had taken a strong view on over the course of the year. Commission members also highlighted the importance of investing in health visitors and school nurses, and this was reflected in the manifesto with a pledge to increase the number of health visitors and school nurses as
part of a preventative healthcare drive.

Throughout the work of the Commission, NHS and social care funding had been a key area of discussion. We saw these views reflected in the manifesto, through the pledge to provide and extra £8 billion for social care over the course of the Parliament and to provide the NHS with £37 billion in extra investment for the NHS, including £10 billion for infrastructure. Members of the Commission also stressed that public health should be a priority. The manifesto particularly focussed on the health of children, a priority for the Commission, and also pledged to publish a new childhood obesity strategy. The manifesto also committed to improving sexual health services, particularly HIV services. A key issue for the Commission, which was looked at in detail by the Commission both last year and this year, was mental health. Following this the manifesto put forward a number of measures to improve those with mental health problems, promising to reverse damage done by the Tories,
which is particularly hitting services for LGBT and BAME communities, and committing to the ringfencing of mental health budgets.

During the manifesto development process, the Commission also received submissions from a number of specialist organisations and charities about health and social care. For example, working to reduce loneliness in our society, an issue championed by the Jo Cox Foundation.

Commission members were keen for the manifesto to highlight their opposition to the privatisation of the NHS. The manifesto pledged to reverse privatisation and return the health service into expert public control, a key issue for members, pledged to repeal the Health and Social Care Act, make the NHS the preferred provider and to reinstate the powers of the Secretary of State for Health to have overall responsibility for the NHS.

Current Issues

State of the NHS

Since the Tories came to power in 2010, we have seen a marked deterioration in NHS performance across key areas in England. There are now almost four million people in England waiting for treatment, such as hip and knee operations, and 2.5 million people had to wait more than four hours to be seen in A&E departments last year. The Tories have failed to grasp the severity of the situation facing our NHS. They have effectively abandoned both the A&E and waiting time targets, conceding that waiting lists are likely to grow and that hospital Trusts will not be required to meet the four hour A&E target until March 2018.

The financial situation facing the NHS is extremely concerning. Hospital trusts ended the year £800 million in deficit, Clinical Commissioning Groups are being forced to ration services and treatments because they simply do not have sufficient funding and alarmingly, recent reports show that some areas of the country will be forced to make draconian cuts to services over the next year. In addition to this, the Tories have made cuts to infrastructure budgets, leaving our hospitals to crumble. These measures will undoubtedly have an impact on patient care.

At the General Election, Labour put forward a substantial funding package for the NHS in England, pledging to invest £37 billion over the course of the Parliament. The Tories once again failed to recognise the challenges facing our health service, and pledged far less over the course of the next five years. Commission members have
discussed future funding for the NHS on several occasions, and a number of submissions were received on future funding of the health service, including different ways to pay for the NHS in years to come. The Commission will continue to keep the vital issue of funding for health and social care under review going forward.

Workforce

Concerns about the NHS and social care workforce have increased over the last twelve months. Under the Tories, staffing shortages have become the norm. We don’t have enough nurses or midwives, leaving hospital wards dangerously understaffed and patients are struggling to get an appointment with a GP due to a shortfall in general practitioners. The Government’s decision to scrap the NHS bursary has resulted in a 23 per cent fall in the number of applications to become a nurse this year. We have a serious shortage of nurses in the UK, with an estimated 24,000 nurse vacancies. Throughout the course of the Commission’s work, shortages in the non-acute sector were also discussed, as were the impact of public health cuts to the workforce. It was clear from submissions and evidence that this decision will have
damaging consequences for the NHS workforce. Overwhelmingly, people supported reintroducing NHS bursaries, and this policy was included in Labour’s manifesto. Another key issue discussed throughout the course of the Commission’s work was the NHS pay cap. It was felt that this policy, which has been in place since the Tories came to power, is unfair and completely fails to recognise the work carried out by health professionals every day. In the manifesto, Labour pledged to scrap the NHS pay cap and to put pay decisions back into the hands of an independent pay review body. In addition, Labour’s manifesto made a commitment to legislate for safe staffing levels in our NHS in order to protect both patients and staff.

Another factor, which will require ongoing discussion and debate, is the potential impact of Brexit on the NHS and social care workforce. An estimated 130,000 people from other EU countries work in our NHS and social care systems, and the Tories have failed to guarantee their rights following the Brexit vote. Concerns about EU workforce numbers are likely to continue over the coming years, putting yet more strain on our overstretched workforce. Labour has made clear that on day one of a Labour government we will immediately guarantee that all EU nationals currently living in the UK will see no change in their legal status as a result of Brexit, and we will seek reciprocal rights for UK citizens in the EU. The Commission will continue to examine this complex issue over the coming months and years.

Social Care

Under the Tories, we have seen deep cuts to local authority budgets that pay for adult social care; between 2010 and 2015 £4.6 billion was cut from social care, there are now around 1.2 miliion people living with unmet care needs and 400,000 fewer people are receiving state funded social care.

The Commission received a number of submissions about integration of health and social care systems, as well as suggestions about how the system should be funded. Commission members underlined that the social care system had changed dramatically and stressed that there must be changes to the way in which it is funded in order to adapt to an ageing population and changes in the system. Conservative policies on social care announced during the course of the General Election were heavily criticised by politicians and experts across the board, so much so that the Prime Minister was forced to drop her damaging ‘dementia tax’, and explain to the
electorate why she had not chosen to include a cap on care costs in the manifesto.

Labour’s manifesto committed to £8 billion of additional funding for social care over the next Parliament, as well as working towards the establishment of a National Care Service, which would put a maximum limit on lifetime costs, raise the asset threshold at which people would start paying for care and offer free social care at end of life. Recognising the importance of the workforce and unpaid carers in the delivery of social care, the manifesto also committed to increasing the Carer’s
Allowance and to working with councils to end 15 minute care visits and provide care workers with paid travel time, access to training and an option to choose regular hours. Given the complex nature of social care and the ongoing challenges in the sector, the Health and Care Policy Commission will continue to keep this topic under continuous discussion in the future.

The future of our NHS and an end to privatisation

Throughout the course of the Commission’s work this year, it was clear that the future of our National Health Service and its structures is an issue of concern. Labour have repeatedly warned that Tory cuts have left our hospitals crumbling and infrastructure systems dismally insecure. It’s why at the election Labour pledged substantial investment into the NHS. Labour will always fight to keep the NHS free at the point of need and to argue for NHS services to be run by public sector NHS providers.

It was evident from submissions and discussions that people are particularly concerned about privatisation of services, and believe that the NHS should continue to be a universal service, free at the point of need. Submissions were received about the NHS Reinstatement Bill, as well as Private Finance Initiative debt. The manifesto has made the position of the Labour party on NHS privatisation clear: privatisation under a Labour Government would be reversed and we would repeal the Health and Social Care Act, making the NHS the preferred provider. In addition to this, a future Labour Government will reinstate the powers of the Secretary of State for Health to have overall responsibility for the NHS and will introduce a new legal duty to ensure that excess private profits are not made out of the NHS at the expense of
patient care.

The role of privatisation in our health and social care systems will continue to be a key issue for the Commission, particularly when looking at the Government’s ongoing Sustainability and Transformation Plans (STPs). Under the Conservatives’ plans, some local NHS services are at risk of downgrading or closure, and there
are real concerns that these plans are being pushed through without proper scrutiny by local communities. The Commission will also scrutinise the Tory response the Naylor Review of NHS estates which proposes selling NHS land and buildings.

Commission members also stressed the importance of considering how priorities vary in the devolved nations. For example, in Wales integration of health and social care is a key ongoing issue, which the Commission will continue to discuss in future. A priority for Commission members going forward is to ensure that policy differences between England and the devolved nations are discussed fully and to see what can be learnt from different approaches and policies to health and care issues.

Mental Health

The past twelve months have seen rising concerns about mental health services for adults and children alike. Under the Tories mental health funding has been cut, the number of mental health nurses has fallen by 6,600 and mental health budgets have been raided to backfill financial holes elsewhere in the NHS. Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services have shown particular signs of strain with referrals rising, but resources failing to keep pace. Labour’s manifesto promised to ring-fence mental health budgets in order to protect services and ensure that funding makes it to the front line. The manifesto also pledged to invest in early intervention by increasing the proportion of mental health budgets spent on support for children and young people, ending the scandal of children being treated on adult wards and providing
additional funding to ensure every secondary school in England is able to offer counselling services to their pupils. The Health and Care Policy Commission will continue to consider developments in mental health in its future discussions.

Public Health

Public health has been discussed throughout the course of the year at meetings and via submissions received by the Commission. At the National Policy Forum meeting in November, representatives were keen to make public health a priority for further discussion and policy development. The consultation document launched in March looked specifically at future challenges in public health, including prevention of ill health, workforce and funding. Current issues which Labour has successfully influenced over recent weeks and months, such as the such as the inquiry into contaminated blood, the PrEP impact trial and the publication of a Tobacco Control Plan, will continue to be looked at and monitored in future work of the Commission.

Submissions

All submissions received by the Policy Commission are circulated to members ahead of the next meeting for consideration as part of our discussions on policy development. In 2016-17 the Health and Care Policy Commission received and considered submissions on the following topics:

  • A&E services
  • Abortion
  • Abolishing car parking fees
  • Additional voluntary tax for the NHS
  • Agency Staff
  • Attendance allowance
  • Attracting and retaining medical staff
  • Autism
  • Bed shortages and overcrowding
  • Career progression in nursing
  • Computerised Medical Records
  • Coroners
  • Diabetes
  • Diet and Health
  • District nurses
  • Drug free prescriptions
  • End of life care
  • Electroconvulsive therapy
  • Electronic monitoring of NHS stock
  • Free dental treatment, eye care and psychotherapy
  • Funding PrEP on the NHS
  • Gender Identity Clinics
  • Governing Boards representation
  • Government Department for Disabled and Young people
  • Health and Social Care Act 2012
  • Health and social care for the elderly
  • Health insurance for overseas visitors
  • Hospital car parking fees
  • Hospital closures
  • Hospital meals standards
  • Insolvency proceedings
  • Independent NHS funding watchdog
  • Integrating Health and Social Care
  • Junior doctors
  • Loneliness
  • Long term planning in the NHS
  • Markets in the NHS
  • Medical coroners
  • Mental health funding
  • Mental health professionals recruitment
  • Merge health care and social care
  • Merge hospital numbers and national insurance numbers
  • Minimum number of registered nurses per set number of patients
  • National Health Service Transparency Code
  • National NHS holiday
  • National Social Care Service
  • NHS Autonomy
  • NHS Employee Representation
  • NHS Lottery
  • NHS Management Improvement Programme
  • NHS Reinstatement Bill
  • NHS tax funding
  • NHS temporary staff
  • NHS’s ‘ordinarily resident’ tests
  • No bonuses
  • Nutrition and preventative healthcare
  • Parity of esteem
  • Paying for GP appointments
  • PFI debts in NHS budgets
  • Pharmaceuticals
  • Privatisation
  • Publicly owned pharmaceutical and biomedical companies
  • Recruiting more nurses and doctors
  • Research funding
  • Return scheme for former medical professionals
  • Senior managers and directors
  • Sheltered housing
  • Staff recruitment from the EU
  • Standardised, non-intrusive testing for vitamin and autoimmune deficiencies
  • State care homes
  • Sugar Tax
  • Support for care at home
  • Sustainability and Transformation Plans
  • Time limits on drug copyright
  • Top-down targets
  • Transparency
  • Training in mental health first aid
  • Treatment of myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME)
  • Two-tier fertility treatment
  • VAT on private medical costs
  • Vulnerable adults protections
  • Whistle blowing protection policy
  • Work experience for Chief Executives in the NHS
  • Zero-hours contracts
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The election showed that people across the country welcomed a left-leaning set of policies.

The financial crisis and the right-wing’s austerity response to it has left the country poorer and more unequal both financially and socially. By offering a comprehensive manifesto that showed a practical route towards more investment in the country, its institutions and its people, Corbyn and McDonnell have broken the assumptions of Labour Party policy-making since 1997.

Political conversation in the UK has moved so far to the right in the last 20 years that social democratic polices commonplace across Europe are seen by the media as radical and left-wing here. And Keynesian economic policy was seen as dangerously radical.

So, at least we can feel on more popular ground demanding an end to privatisation and more investment into the NHS.

The NHS should not even be seen as a cost to the state and to all of us. It is an investment with at least a 4:1 return.

As the economist Ha-Joon Chang says 

Both Labour and the Tories see tax as a burden that needs to be minimised. But would you call the money that you pay for your takeaway curry or Netflix subscription a burden? You wouldn’t, because you recognise that you are getting your curry and TV shows in return. Likewise, you shouldn’t call your taxes a burden because in return you get an array of public services, from education, health and old-age care, through to flood defence and roads to the police and military.

If tax really were a pure burden, all rich individuals and companies would move to Paraguay or Bulgaria, where the top rate of income tax is 10%. Of course, this does not happen because, in those countries, in return for low tax you get poor public services. Conversely, most rich Swedes don’t go into tax exile because of their 60% top income tax rate, because they get a good welfare state and excellent education in return. Japanese and German companies don’t move out of their countries in droves despite some of the highest corporate income tax rates in the world (31% and 30% respectively) because they get good infrastructure, well-educated workers, strong public support for research and development, and so on.

So, we should be demanding right now an end to this unstable DUP/Tory connection – even if the DUP interest in more state investment in public services comes into play. We want a comprehensive set of policies that tackle not only the immediate requirements to prevent a Greek-style collapse of the health service, but an approach that begins to tackle the causes of the causes of ill-health: health inequalities, child poverty, poor housing, degradation of the educational system, isolation, communities under pressure with reducing support and civic life.

While we wait for this unstable arrangement to collapse, we need to keep making clear demands for the NHS and the wider system. If necessary, GPs and nurses must go further than at present towards industrial action. We cannot wait for the NHS to unravel.

We now have a far clearer mandate – we can take forward a left-leaning set of policies and feel that we are not alone.

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A manifesto with and for disabled people

Over the last seven years disabled people have borne the brunt of the cuts inflicted on them by the Conservative Government and the Coalition before them. The cuts have had a detrimental effect on the lives of disabled people, cutting living standards and undermining their access to education, social care and to justice.

Two years ago the United Nations  convened a committee to investigate state violations of the UN Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UN CRPD). Last year the UN published their report and concluded that the Conservative Government had committed ‘grave, systematic violations of the rights of persons with disabilities.’ This is a damning indictment of the treatment of disabled people by the Conservatives, one which shames us as a country.

We believe in a social model of disability, a society which removes the barriers restricting opportunities and choices for disabled people. As such we will build on the previous Labour government’s commitment to disabled people in 2009 as signatories to the UN CRPD. A Labour government will incorporate the UN CRPD into UK law.

We are proud of the manifesto we have developed with, and for, disabled people, and would like to take the opportunity of thanking everyone who has taken part in Labour’s Disability Equality Roadshow over the last year. We have crossed the length and breadth of the country to engage with disabled people and their carers, capturing their views on what needs to change for disabled people to live full and independent lives. We will continue to work with disabled people in government, fulfilling our promise of ‘nothing about you, without you’.

Disability Equality

INTRODUCTION

Labour is the party of equality and diversity. The next Labour government will ensure that no-one in our society is held back. We know that fairer societies are better for all of us. To truly achieve this, the next Labour government  will build a Britain for the many: a fairer, more equal and diverse society that treats people of all backgrounds and abilities with dignity and respect.

Over the last seven years, disabled people, including people with physical or mental impairments and long-term health conditions, have been scapegoated by the Conservative Government and the Coalition. A 2016 UN inquiry found that since 2010 the UK Government has been responsible for ‘grave, systematic violations’ of the UN Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The Conservatives have stonewalled this unprecedented inquiry and refused to enact its recommendations.

Disabled people are twice as likely to live in poverty compared with non-disabled people in part due to the extra costs associated with their disability. This has not stopped the Conservatives from disproportionately targeting disabled people with their destructive cuts. Currently 4.2 million disabled people live in poverty and new evidence indicates that this number is increasing as a result of cuts in support. According to Scope, the 2012 Welfare Reform Act has cut nearly £28 billion in social security support from 3.7 million disabled people. The 2016 Welfare Act cuts are adding to the real suffering many disabled people are experiencing. And of course this doesn’t include the cuts in social care, or the NHS, or education or transport, all of which have directly affected disabled people.

In 2016, the Labour Party launched the Disability Equality Roadshow, to ensure as we developed new policies for government, we fully engaged with disabled people and their carers, committing to the principle ‘nothing about me, without me’. As part of the Disability Equality Roadshow, we travelled the length and breadth of the country, meeting with thousands of disabled people, carers and stakeholders. We discussed the issues they face and their priorities for the future, focusing on the articles of the UN CRPD. Disabled people who were unable to attend the events were able to submit their views to us online. We have collated and consolidated all of this information in the pledges that we set out here in this manifesto ‘With and for Disabled People’.

Only Labour will champion the rights of disabled people and build a country where disabled people are supported to lead fulfilling and independent lives. We are committed to a social model of disability and will enshrine the UN Convention on the Rights of Disabled People fully into UK law. Labour will do away with the Work Capability and Personal Independence Payment assessments and replace them with a personalised, holistic process which provides each individual with a tailored plan, building on their strengths and addressing barriers, whether finance, skills, health, care, transport, or housing related. We will reverse cruel Conservative changes to Personal Independence Payments, which are denying 160,000 disabled people the support they need and we will scrap the Conservatives’ punitive sanctions regime. Under a Labour government, disability issues will be incorporated into every single government department. Labour will support disabled people into work, halving the disability employment gap. And we will reverse cuts to the Work-Related Activity Component of Employment Support Allowance, affecting half a million sick and disabled people.

KEY PLEDGES

  • Labour supports a social model of disability. People may have a condition or an impairment but are disabled by society. We need to remove the barriers in society that restrict opportunities and choices for disabled people.
  • Labour will build on the previous Labour Government’s commitment to disabled people in 2009 as signatories to the United Nations Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities . A new Labour Government will incorporate the UN CRPD into UK law.
  • Labour will transform our social security system. Like the NHS, our social security system should be there for all of us in our time of need, providing security and dignity in retirement and the basics in life should we become sick or disabled, or fall on hard times.
  • We will repeal cuts in social security support to disabled people through a new Social Security Bill published in our first year of office.
  • Labour will scrap the Work Capability and Personal Independence Payment assessments and replace them with a personalised, holistic assessment process which provides each individual with a tailored plan, building on their strengths and addressing barriers, whether finance, skills, health, care, transport, or housing related.
  • Labour will change the culture of the social security system, from one that demonises sick and disabled people to one that is supportive and enabling. As a starting point we will scrap the Conservatives’ punitive sanctions regime and change how Job Centre Plus staff are performance managed.

ENSURING AN ADEQUATE STANDARD OF LIVING AND SOCIAL PROTECTION

“ We [disabled people] are treated as being guilty by the DWP until we prove that we are innocent.”
“The current social security system is taking away peoples’ choices over their lives and taking away their fundamental rights.”

Disability Equality Roadshow participants

PLEDGES

  • Labour will transform our social security system. Like the NHS, our social security system should be there for all of us in our time of need, providing security and dignity in retirement and the basics in life should we become sick or disabled, or fall on hard times. We will repeal cuts in social security support to disabled people through a new Social Security Bill published in our first year of office.
  • Labour will reverse the cruel cuts to Personal Independence Payments, Employment Support Allowance Work-Related Activity Group and Universal Credit Limited Capability to Work and we will repeal the hideous Bedroom Tax which has punished so many disabled and non-disabled people. The Conservatives’ punitive sanctions will go too.
  • Labour will scrap the discredited Work Capability and Personal Independence Payment assessments and replace them with a personalised, holistic assessment process which provides each individual with a tailored plan, building on their strengths and addressing barriers, whether financial, skills, health, care, transport, or housing related.

Over the last seven years, disabled people have borne the brunt of the social security cuts from the Conservatives and the Conservative-Lib Dem Coalition before them.

The 2012 Welfare Reform Act has been estimated by Scope to have cut approximately £28 billion in social security support from 3.7 million disabled people in spite of it being well recognised that disabled people are twice as likely to live in poverty as non-disabled people in part by virtue of the extra costs associated with their disability.

The 2012 Act included the introduction of Personal Independence Payment (PIP) to replace Disability Living Allowance (DLA), a new sanctions regime, and new assessment processes for Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) and PIP. All of these have had serious concerns raised about them, including from the UN inquiry who said there were ‘grave, systematic violations’ on the rights of disabled people, the Information Commissioner concerning the deaths of claimants following their Work Capability Assessment finding them fit for work, and indeed the most recent reviewer of PIP who raised concerns yet again about the quality and reliability of the PIP assessment process where two thirds of decisions are overturned on appeal.

According to the Coalition Government’s estimates, by 2018, 600,000 fewer people will be getting PIP than received DLA. The mental health charity MIND has revealed that 55% of people with mental health conditions transferring from DLA to PIP are being assessed as ineligible for PIP or having their support reduced. These figures are before the disgraceful introduction of new PIP regulations without any debate in Parliament, which overturned two tribunal rulings that people with mental health conditions should receive the higher rate of PIP support. So much for parity of esteem for people with mental health conditions: another broken promise from the Conservatives.

The Conservative Government’s own figures show that since 2010, we are spending less and less in supporting disabled people as a percentage of our country’s wealth (Gross Domestic Product, GDP). Eurostat data from 2012 shows that we ranked 17th out of 32 EU countries in spending on disability support as a percentage of GDP.

In spite of the Conservatives pledging not to cut support to disabled people in their 2015 manifesto, the 2016 Welfare Reform and Work Act did exactly that. In addition to the four-year freeze in social security support affecting disabled people, the 2016 Act cut financial support by £1500 a year to half a million disabled people who had been found not fit-for-work but who may be in the future on the ESA Work-Related Activity Group.

In Scotland, in spite of talking the talk, the Scottish National Party (SNP) has failed to tackle the difficulties disabled people face with the devolved powers at their disposal. The SNP Government had the opportunity to protect disabled people from the full impact of the Conservatives’ punitive social security cuts as the social security budget was due to be devolved to the Scottish Parliament under the Scotland Act this year. Although they now have control over 11 types of social security support, they have failed to make any discernible difference to the lives of disabled people.

The Conservatives have fostered an insidious culture of fear and blame to justify their programme of cuts, deliberately attempting to vilify social security claimants as the new undeserving poor. Labour will transform our social security system to one that is efficient, responsive, and provides basic support. Time and time again, we have heard how worthless the system makes people feel. For the vast majority of people who have paid into it all their working lives, this is insulting.

Work should always pay more than being on social security; but relying on social security should not leave people feeling worthless and abandoned as it does now.

Labour has already pledged to get rid of the discriminatory and unfair Bedroom Tax, but we will also scrap the discredited Work Capability and Personal Independence Payment assessments and replace them with a system based on personalised, holistic support, one that provides each individual with a tailored plan, building on their strengths and addressing barriers, whether finance, skills, health, care, transport, or housing related. We want to stop the profiteering from these assessments, so we will use public or voluntary sector organisations which are local and accessible to claimants, not those private companies that have manipulated the system for maximum profits.

The Conservatives’ punitive sanctions system must go too, so Job Centre Plus will be reformed and not just assessed on how many people they get off their books. Labour will change the culture of our social security system and how the public see it. Like the NHS, it is based on principles of inclusion, support and security for all, assuring our dignity and the basics of life were we to fall on hard times or become incapacitated. It is there for all of us should any one of us become sick or disabled.

WORK AND EMPLOYMENT

“ I declared my mental health condition [when I applied for a job] and even though my experiences and qualifications made me suitable for the position, I didn’t even get an interview. Even though I am similarly or better qualified than others going for the same job.”
Disability Equality Roadshow participant

PLEDGES

  • Labour will halve the disability employment gap by supporting employers retain employees who may have developed a long-term health condition or an impairment. Job Centre Plus will have a new duty to work with local authorities and local employers on recruitment needs and practices. Employees with an impairment or chronic condition will have a new right to flexible working.
  • We will require organisations with over 250 employees to report annually on the number and proportion of disabled people they employ.
  • We will commission a review to explore how we can expand Access to Work support, including for self-employed disabled people.
  • Labour will review specialist employment services and will work with local authorities, unions and the voluntary sector to develop local, alternative employment opportunities for disabled people transitioning into employment or who may need more supportive work environments, such as the social enterprise ‘Enabled Works’ in Morley, Leeds.

The disability employment gap – the gap in employment between non-disabled and disabled people – is currently 31%. In 2015, it was 32%. The Conservatives pledged to halve the disability employment gap in their 2015 General Election manifesto. At the current rate it will take 50 years for this to be achieved. Although four million people with disabilities are working already, there are another three million who are available to and want to work, but are currently unemployed. As the vast majority (90%) of disabled people have worked previously this is a waste of their skills, experience and talent.

There are implications for the economy and society as a whole. Research from the Social Market Foundation has estimated that halving the disability employment gap and supporting one million more disabled people into work would boost the economy by £13 billion a year.

There are many reasons for the disability employment gap including a lack of information and advice for employers. A recent survey showed 15% of disabled people felt they had been discriminated against when applying for a job, and one in five while they were in work. That’s why the next Labour government will work with employers to overcome these issues through stronger laws and proper enforcement of the Equality Act.

The Conservatives’ warm words have not been followed up with any meaningful action. After closing 48 Remploy factories for disabled people in 2013, making 2,000 people redundant in the process, they failed to transfer the money that they had saved from these closures to support disabled people into work. The chaos and inadequacy of the specialist employment support programme, Access to Work, which last year supported just over 37,000 disabled people into and at work, and Job Centre Plus’ Disability Employment service show the Conservatives are not serious about tackling the disability employment gap.

The SNP government in Scotland also promised to reduce the disability employment gap by at least half. However, since they took office they have failed to propose any policies that would help disabled people find meaningful employment and to tackle the disability employment gap.

Labour has already pledged to halve the disability employment gap. Over the next ten years we want to see a cultural shift in attitudes to people with chronic and fluctuating health conditions and disabilities in work and across society as a whole. To raise awareness of disability and work issues, every year we will require organisations with over 250 people to publish the number of disabled people that they employ.

We will support disabled people to stay in work or get back into work by increasing the numbers of disabled people who will be able to receive Access to Work support. We also want to expand Access to Work support to self-employed disabled people. We will ensure specialist disability employment advisers are there to support disabled people as part of our reform of Job Centre Plus.

Labour recognises that for some disabled people it may not be possible to participate in mainstream work; as such more supportive work arrangements need to be developed. We will provide ‘seed corn’ funding for the development of local enterprises such as the co-operative ‘Enabled Works’ in Morley, Leeds. It is over 70 years since legislation was first introduced to prohibit employment related discrimination against disabled people. Labour will lead the charge for a fair deal for disabled people in work and beyond.

EDUCATION AND TRAINING

“ Disabled people must be properly supported to access all available education and training opportunities.”
Disability Equality Roadshow participant

PLEDGES

  • Labour will tackle the discrimination against disabled children in accessing education, including in Free Schools and Academies.
  • We will address the disability education gap, which stops disabled children fulfilling their potential, replacing the flawed Education, Health and Care Plan assessment, which has been used to restrict access to support. We will also address issues with skilled support and resourcing, and ensure effective transitioning to adult services.
  • Labour will deliver a strategy for children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) based on inclusivity, and embed SEND more substantially into training for teachers and non-teaching staff, so that staff, children and their parents are properly supported.
  • Labour will make sure that the Modern Apprenticeship programme is open to all, and increase the numbers of disabled trainees included in the programme.
  • • Labour will place a duty on all higher education institutions to ensure that their courses are accessible to disabled students, including through scrapping tuition fees, course support and support for living costs.

The school funding crisis means that disabled pupils with Special Education Needs (SEN) are not only inadequately supported in mainstream schools, but are being excluded from these schools seven times more than non-disabled peers. Often they and their family’s only choice is special residential schools. Labour believes disabled children and their families should be able to attend a mainstream school when they want to.

The Conservative Government has failed to tackle the disability employment gap and has failed to deliver an education policy that enables children with special education needs, physical or learning disabilities (SEND) to reach their potential which would enable them to participate fully in society.

SEND young people are more likely to not be in education, employment or training at 19 years of age. The Conservatives have failed to engage with children and young people and enable them to have more autonomy over their lives and empower them through education and employment. Labour will deliver a strategy for children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) based on inclusivity, and embed SEND more substantially into training for teachers and non-teaching staff, so that staff, children and their parents are properly supported.

Although the 2014 Children and Families Act introduced Education Health and Care Plans (ECHPs) from birth to 25 years providing the potential for a more joined-up needs assessment and care plan, it is clear that the ECHPs are in effect restricting access to support for all but those with the most severe needs. Getting an assessment in the first place requires monumental efforts from parents and teachers alike, and on top of that there are issues with the quality of these assessments.

But help in caring for disabled children has also been hit by the Conservatives. On average, it costs three times as much to raise a disabled child. Families with disabled children face considerable additional expenditure on heating, housing, clothing, equipment and other items compared with other families. And yet the Conservatives’ programme of social security and social care cuts are making it harder for families to cope, let alone thrive so that their children can develop to be the best that they can be. Transitioning to adult services is also still a huge issue, with severe financial pressures facing social care adding to the difficulties of moving from children’s services.

Similarly, young disabled people have found it really hard to get on apprenticeship schemes and with Conservative cuts to disabled students’ allowances (DSA) the onus has been placed on universities or disabled students themselves to ensure that their access needs are supported.

Labour has pledged to tackle the disability education gap and to reform the ECHP process, including improving access to and reliability of assessments, and adequate support to implement the ECHP.

We will make sure that Modern Apprenticeships are open to disabled people, increasing the numbers of disabled apprentices year on year. And we will increase accessibility of higher education to disabled students by placing a duty on all universities and higher education institutions to define in their access scheme how disabled students will be supported, including through tuition fee structures and bursaries for living costs.

ACCESSIBLE ENVIRONMENTS

“ Lack of safe and secure affordable housing is a barrier to disabled people living independently.”
Disability Equality Roadshow participant

PLEDGES

  • Labour will develop environments that enable disabled people to live independently, and not in isolation, reflecting our commitment to Article 19 in the UN CRPD.
  • We will build more accessible and disabled-friendly new homes as part of our affordable housing programme.
  • Labour will stop the expansion of driver-only operation on board trains. Guards are essential for allowing disabled passengers access to trains.
  • Labour will reverse the cut to the funding to the Access to All programme, which was set up to improve accessibility to all of Britain’s railway stations.

Conservative cuts to public transport have disproportionally impacted on disabled people who rely more heavily on it to get around. In particular, cuts to local bus services, especially in rural areas have had a profound impact on disabled bus users, as many disabled people live in a household with no car, and disabled people use buses more frequently than non-disabled people. Fewer than one in five railway stations is fully accessible and train providers have been criticised for the decline in the quality of the services they provide for disabled passengers, including something as basic as toilet facilities.

The Conservatives’ cuts are also impacting on where disabled people are able to live, affecting their ability to live independently. The Bedroom Tax, cuts threatening the viability of supported housing projects for disabled and older people, and the freeze in Local Housing Allowance are all having a big impact on disabled people being able to afford to continue to live in their homes. This is on top of a national housing crisis with the lowest level of house building in peacetime since the 1920s, and a ballooning of insecure and poor quality private rental housing.

Labour has promised to ensure that we will build more accessible and disabled friendly new homes as part of our commitment to build 100,000 new affordable homes a year.

We will also stop the expansion of driver-only operated trains, which has a direct impact on disabled people’s ability to travel. By removing guards, disabled passengers lose the guarantee that they can turn up and travel when they want; instead disabled people will be forced to give 24 hours’ notice that they wish to travel.

HEALTH AND SOCIAL CARE

“Cuts to the NHS are falling hardest onto disabled people.”
Disability Equality Roadshow participant

PLEDGES

• Labour, in partnership with disabled people, will seek to develop a network of local, ‘one-stop-shop’ independent living hubs to be led by disabled people, reflecting our commitment to Article 19 in the UN CRPD.
• Labour will give the NHS the resources it needs by investing an additional £37 billion over the next parliament.
• Labour will ensure the social care system is fully funded by investing £8 billion in the next parliament, and laying the foundations for a National Care Service.
• Labour will increase the status of domiciliary care workers by introducing training and career pathways for carers to progress. And we will exclude people’s homes from the means-test for domiciliary care.
• Labour will increase Carer’s Allowance to £73 a week, an increase of 16%, in recognition of Britain’s dedicated, unpaid carers.

There is strong evidence that the Conservatives’ austerity measures have had detrimental effects on the health and care of disabled people, as well as their ability to live independently. In addition to failing to deliver ‘parity of esteem’ for people with mental health conditions, the number of specialist learning disability nurses has discernibly decreased. Under the Conservatives there has also been a reduction in training commissions for learning disability nurses.

Since 2010, the Conservatives have cut £4.6 billion from social care which means that across the country, people with chronic health conditions, disabled and older people who go into crisis or have an accident are being admitted into hospital when this could have been avoided had they been better cared for in the community. And the lack of social care in the community means that many people end up staying much longer in hospital than they need because they can’t be safely discharged.

In 2015 the SNP government proposed ‘a real alternative to austerity’ in Scotland. Instead, they have slashed more than £1.5 billion from local services like social care. The SNP has had the powers to top-up Carer’s Allowance since September 2016, but they are yet to use it. Carers are still waiting for the promised increase in the allowance. After two manifesto pledges in 2015 and 2016, a six month feasibility study and endless questions, carers in Scotland are no better off.

Labour is committed to the equal right of all disabled people to live in the community, with choices equal to others as expressed in Article 19 of the UN CRPD. We will work with disabled people and local agencies seeking to develop a network of local, independent living hubs – a ‘one-stop-shop’ for all a disabled person’s needs – to enable this. These would be run by disabled people, foster independence, facilitate peer or advocacy support, as well as providing practical support for disabled people. Several examples of good practice were visited or mentioned at different Disability Equality Roadshow events, including Sheffield’s Centre for Independent Living and Equal Lives in Norwich.

Labour wants to improve the status of domiciliary care work, which we believe for far too long has been seen as low-skilled, low-paid work. We will develop training with career pathways and progression for paid carers.

And we will also support Britain’s unsung heroes; our unpaid carers, who provide millions of hours of unpaid support to loved ones, friends or neighbours every week, and are estimated to save the country over £132 billion a year. A Labour government will increase Carer’s Allowance from £62 a week to £73 a week in recognition of the contribution carers make.

ACCESS TO JUSTICE

“ The justice system can leave disabled people feeling scared and alone. Some cases of hate crime have been so bad that disabled people have had to move homes in order for the abuse to stop.”
Disability Equality Roadshow participant

PLEDGES

  • Labour will ensure disabled people have the same access to justice as nondisabled people. We will strengthen the Equality Act in order to empower disabled people to confidently challenge all forms of discrimination and prejudice, wherever it occurs.
  • Labour will ensure annual reporting of the levels of disability hate crime and violence against disabled women, putting into place comprehensive national action plans to stop these crimes.

Disabled people’s ability to access justice has been hit by the Conservatives’ cuts to legal aid support, to local government and to local law centres that provide free legal advice to communities.

Cuts to legal aid mean less support to challenge social security decisions, affecting up to 80,000 disabled people. Although welfare rights agencies have tried to fill the void, the Conservatives have plans in the pipeline to abolish face to face tribunal hearings on social security matters.

In addition to the Conservatives’ legal aid cuts, tribunal fees of up to £1200 introduced in 2013 have made it harder for disabled people to challenge discrimination. As a result, disabled people find it very difficult to challenge employers’ potentially discriminatory behaviour.

The Conservatives have also failed to expand the scope of the law to cover crimes committed against people on the basis of disability, even though these hate crimes are now on the rise.

Given the Conservatives’ continued threats to abolish the Human Rights Act, there are concerns that equal recognition under the law for disabled people may be at risk. Similarly, the Conservatives’ proposed Great Repeal Bill has yet to define what EU legislation will be transposed into UK law, including that which promotes and protects the rights of disabled people.

Labour will ensure that disabled people have equal access to justice as nondisabled people. We will strengthen the Equality Act so that it works better for disabled people. A Labour government will reinstate the public sector equality duties and seek to extend them to the private sector, ensuring all citizens benefit from this Labour legislation. A Labour government will enhance the powers and functions of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, making it truly independent, to ensure it can support people to effectively challenge any discrimination they may face.

We will ensure that under the Istanbul Convention, there is annual reporting of the levels of disability hate crimes and violence against disabled women, and comprehensive national action plans to stop these crimes are put in place, including training for the police.

PARTICIPATING FULLY IN POLITICAL, PUBLIC AND CULTURAL LIFE

“Disabled candidates are deterred from standing as candidates; they receive very little support or guidance. There’s a complete lack of information on how to participate and stand in local, regional and national elections”.
Disability Equality Roadshow participant

Disabled access

PLEDGES

  • As a political party, Labour will adopt accessible selection processes at local, regional and national levels of political office, and ensure reasonable adjustments for disabled candidates in recognition of the additional costs that they face.
  • Labour will undertake a review of sports, arts and leisure venues to determine how access to people with different conditions and impairments can best be improved.

The Conservatives have failed to build on the work Labour undertook in government enabling disabled people to participate in cultural life.

Disabled people are still under-represented in many walks of life, from drama to sport to politics. Similarly the opportunity for disabled people to participate as spectators and enjoy a football match or concert is too often still denied to them.

Despite the commercial success of the Premier League, a recent study by the Equality and Human Rights Commission showed that just seven out of 20 Premier League teams are providing the minimum recommended space for wheelchair users, and just seven of 20 have adequate ‘changing place’ toilet facilities for disabled people.

Labour will address these issues by undertaking a review of access and inclusiveness in sports, arts and leisure venues, considering the needs of people with different disabilities.

We will also promote the use of British Sign Language (BSL) by developing a BSL National Plan for England, reflecting a similar scheme developed in Scotland by Scottish Labour. The next Labour government will also introduce legislation to give legal status to BSL through an Act of Parliament.

Labour will open up democracy to disabled people, many of whom have felt disenfranchised for too long. We will develop an inclusion and access strategy that ensures disabled members are able to participate fully in all local party activities, and that there is a fair and accessible selection process for all candidates for local, regional and national levels of political office.

As a political party Labour will provide training and ensure reasonable adjustments for disabled candidates in recognition of the additional costs that they will face.

 

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  1. Introduction

As a nation we have made huge steps tackling issues around inequality and discrimination against disabled people in our society, from passing the historic 1995 Disability Discrimination Act to becoming signatories to the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in 2009 and to defining protections afforded to disabled people under the Equality Act 2010. While progress had been made, disabled people still continue to face discrimination and disadvantage.

The Labour Party is the party of equality and that is why we launched the Disability Equality Roadshow (DER) on 11th November 2016 in Manchester with the leader of the Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn. The principle behind the DER is that future social security policy needs to be co-produced with its stakeholders including disabled people and their carers, service providers and the public at large.

Our aims are to engage with stakeholders and hear their views and experiences of social security policy, in addition to a wide-range of other policy areas. Disabled People Against Cuts proposed the road show and together with Disability Labour, TUC Disability lead, Disabled People’s Organisations and Charities have been instrumental in setting up the Disability Equality Roadshow.

The Disability Equality Roadshow will involve deaf and disabled people, their carers and service providers at engagement events across every region of the country, and each nation state. In addition we will ensure anyone who may not be able to attend events in person can still engage with the process online via written, audio or video submissions. Live streaming will also be available for some events.

The Disability Equality Roadshow will start from a position that values our social security system, not denigrates it or its users, and, like the NHS, starts from principles of inclusion, support and security for all, assuring us of our dignity and the basics of life, giving us a hand up, not a hand out, should any one of us become ill, disabled or fall on hard times. It will also be essential to engage with the wider public on what a new social contract will look like.

We are seeking to develop policies that enable disabled people to lead full and rich lives, reflecting a social model of disability, so contributing to our obligations as signatory to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Labour takes these obligations seriously, which is why we will be travelling across the country to hear your views.

The DER will be supported by the Disability Equality Commission, which will pull together the evidence from all the events as well wider evidence. It will also be responsible for drafting a report on this to Debbie Abrahams, the Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary.

Disability Equality Roashow

The report and recommendations will be incorporated into our wider policy development process through our National Policy Forum. In conjunction with the DER, we will also be launching Disability Equality Watch (DEW) – a platform for you to share the impacts of this Government’s so-called welfare reforms. You will be able to send us your evidence of the impacts this Government’s social security policies are having on you and your families.

2. The Disability Equality Roadshow events

Debbie Abrahams and other members of the Shadow Work and Pensions team will attend each DER event. Approximately 30 DER events will take place over the coming year; information on each event will be published on the Labour Party Policy Forum website. Each event will be will be free to all participants and open to deaf and disabled people and their carers. Anybody with access needs should specify their requirements at least two weeks before the event. During the event, there will be a number of round discussion tables where participants will explore their experiences and priorities for change under the following themes:

  • Adequate standard of living and social protection
  • Health and social care
  • Education and training
  • Work and employment
  • Independent living
  • Access to justice
  • Participation in cultural, political and public life

These themes reflect articles from the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

3. The questions

For anyone who may not be able to attend the events but would like to submit evidence to the Disability Equality Roadshow, you can do this on the Labour Party Policy Forum website .

The questions we would like your input on are:

Adequate standard of living and social protection:

  1. What have your personal experiences of the social security/protection system been? Points to Consider:
  • What are your experiences with Employment and Support Allowance or Incapacity Benefit, Work Capability Assessments, Personal Independence Payment or Disability Living Allowance, the Work Programme/Work Choice, Universal Credit or other support?
  • How was the process of applying and being assessed for social security support?
  • What are your experiences of sanctions?
  1. What are the three most important things that a Labour government could do to reshape social security so that it is better suited to your needs?

Health and Social Care:

  1. What have your experiences of health and social care been like? Points to consider:
  • Which health care providers did you see, e.g., GP, nurse, consultant, mental health specialist, occupational health?
  • How quickly did you get specialist care?
  • What was the process like to get specialist care?
  • How would you rate the quality of care you received?
  • What communication did your healthcare providers have with DWP?
  • How did your condition and treatment affect you and your family, including anybody who had to care for you?
  1. What are the three most important things that a Labour government could do to ensure the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health of disabled people?

Education and Training

  1. What have your experiences of mainstream/non-mainstream education and training been? Points to consider:
  • How is the reform of Special Educational Needs and Disabilities improving the educational outcomes of disabled children, including Education Health & Care Assessments/Plans?
  • What have your experiences been with post-16 training/experiences such as apprenticeships, further/higher education and vocational courses?
  1. What are the three most important things that a Labour government could do to ensure disabled people have access to the same educational and training opportunities as non-disabled people?

Work and Employment:

  1. What have your experiences of work and employment been? Points to consider:
  • How have you found employers and colleagues in relation to your disability?
  • What were your experiences of the NHS or occupational health providers in helping you to stay in employment?
  • What are you experiences of the DWP in providing social security support to help stay in employment?
  • What have your experiences been of asking employers to make reasonable adjustments?
  1. What are the three most important things that a Labour government could do to enable sick and disabled people to stay in and/or to return to work?

Independent living:

  1. What have your experiences of living independently been? Points to consider:
  • What are your experiences of housing, housing adaptations and independent living?
  • What are your experiences of transport, particularly public transport and independent living?
  • What are your experiences of social care both formally and informally to help you live independently?
  • What have your experiences been of the social security system and how did they impact on your ability to live independently?

10.What are the three most important things that a Labour government could do to ensure disabled people are able to live independently?

Access to justice:

11.What have your experiences of accessing the civil and/or criminal justice system been like?

Points to consider:

  • What are your experiences of dealing with the police for example to report a crime, particularly disability hate crime?
  • Have you ever applied for legal aid, what was the experience like?
  • What are your experiences with discrimination in employment and employment tribunals or Social security tribunals?

12.What are the three most important things that a Labour government could do to ensure access to justice for disabled people?

Participation in Cultural, Political and Public Life:

13.What have your experiences of participating in cultural, political and public life been? Points to consider:

  • What are your experiences of engaging in sports and other physical activity?
  • What are your experiences of engaging with the Arts?
  • What are your experiences of political engagement, at a local, regional and national level?

14.What are the three most important things that a Labour government could do to help ensure disabled people are able to participate in cultural, political and public life?

4. And finally

Labour’s commitment to people-powered politics means that the Disability Equality Roadshow  process involving Deaf and disabled people, carers and service providers, will feed into our National Policy Forum. We are mindful of our commitments to the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and are working across our Shadow Teams to incorporate disability issues into all policy development. Through this consultation we will incorporate your views into evidence based policies for disabled people. Together with your help we can transform our social security system, based on the principles of dignity, independence and support.

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Labour’s highly successful conference has given us the term “21st Century Socialism” as a label to describe Corbyn’s new political strategy. Cynics and plotters may observe that this term, rhetorically, performs the same role as “New Labour” – it looks back, but moves forward. But I really like it. Restoring socialism to the centre of public policy is a smart move that will advance political debate in this country.

Socialism remains a spiky and challenging word in modern Britain. But it is much better to claim it and to define it than to let your enemies use it against you. Watering down ideas to please the middle-ground convinces no one. However, it will still be necessary to define this “21st Century” version of socialism, both in terms of policy and deeper values. 21st Century Socialism must have wide appeal, while also addressing the real challenges and opportunities of our times.

It will also be necessary to honestly reflect on the failures of 20th Century Socialism – the things to be avoided in the future. Socialists are often tempted to make two interconnected errors. The first error is to confuse equality with sameness. The second error is to confuse democracy with the state. True justice, which socialists rightly seek, is not achieved simply by putting increased power into state institutions and imposing standardised solutions on atomised and weakened individuals.

“We have little faith in the ‘average sensual man’, we do not believe that he can do more than describe his grievances, we do not think he can prescribe the remedies.”

This reveals a disdainful attitude to ordinary people that is reflected by the early Fabian support for eugenics and for its strong preference for policies that reduce people’s freedom, control and sense of solidarity. This same attitude is reflected in many of the policies developed under New Labour. To take just one example, the vicious and damaging Work Capability Assessment (WCA), and its associated Work Programmes, are a mess of private greed, public interference and administrative incompetence. It is a great relief that Debbie Abrahams of Corbyn’s team has had the sense to end Labour’s previous support for this nonsense.

True justice is achieved by enabling individuals and communities to have the power and resources they need to flourish. True justice encourages growth, creativity and diversity. True justice welcomes debate and disagreement as a means to promote social development.

One of the fundamental lessons of the neoliberal era is that democracy matters, and that democracy means much more than what goes on inside the Palace of Westminster. If people are not involved in their local communities then they will not care when local services are savaged by cuts. If there is no union representation for disabled people or care workers then it is much easier for Government to cut social care by 50%. If political parties are not accountable to their members then you can expect corruption to flourish.

If millions of people have their lives ruled by a handful of professional politicians, an army of bureaucrats and its tame media circus then, surprise surprise, government can get away with almost anything. This is not hyperbole, for example, examine the increased suicide rates caused by the WCA or the UN report on the UK’s human rights failings, which has barely been covered by the mainstream media.

21st Century Socialists will need to remember that we are all equal, but that we’re also all different. Social justice should be measured, not by whether someone has got a little bit more than you, but whether we’ve made sure that everyone, is able to play their own unique part as a full and active citizen, with a life of meaning. Instead of a paternalistic and controlling welfare state we need to promote policies such as:

  • Universal Basic Income to provide security for all, taking stigma out of the benefit system.
  • Universal and properly funded social care system, abandoning mean-spirited means-testing.
  • A new settlement for local government (not the current half-baked models) but constitutional reform to put power back into our local communities.

There are many good ideas, practices and innovations out there that show us what is possible. Ordinary people, up and down the country are already figuring out how to achieve elements of 21st Century Socialism. It’s time our politicians caught up. We share lots of examples through the Centre for Welfare Reform’s website. Recent philosophical papers that explore the possible underpinning for 21st Century Socialism include my Citizenship and the Welfare State and Henry Tam’s excellent essay Political Literacy and Civic Thoughtfulness.

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Saturday 24 September 2016

Conference. Thank you for inviting me here to address you and I apologise about the disruption caused by the other engagement this morning. Thank you to you all for the inspirational contribution that you and the women that have come before you make to this incredible movement of ours.

I know everyone in this room today will want to join me in offering Sarah Champion our full and warmest support. Sarah you are a truly inspiring campaigner, who we all have complete trust in and I know you will continue with the excellent work you are doing.

The advances for women in Britain and around the world have been fought and won _ by determined campaigners like you working together for real change often in the face of intransigence, resistance and even abuse. That’s the legacy of women in our movement.

But there’s one person who isn’t here today. And she would be if it weren’t for an act of hatred and violence that has robbed two children of their mother and the Labour Party of a valued and cherished friend. So many of you here today knew Jo we will never ever forget her never forget what she stood for never forget what she campaigned for and together – united – let us fight for the things that would make her proud. Nobody who has seen the films and photographs shared by Brendan Cox can have failed to be touched by the images of a woman so clearly delighting in spending time with her young children. They remain in all our thoughts – and it is to them today that I would like to send my continued best wishes on behalf of all the Labour family.

As colleagues from across Parliament noted in their moving tributes to Jo she was adamant that there was much more that united than divides us. And there is no better way we can honour Jo’s memory than ensuring we unite and are resolute in our pursuit of making the world a better place.

We must ensure that the Labour Party remains at the forefront of championing policies which promote equality. That is why, earlier this week I urged the NEC to vote through a policy-making women’s conference, so that the voice of women across our movement can be heard loud and clear in our policy-making process.

The economic stagnation caused by austerity has seen a desperate drop in living standards for many people but it is women, above all, who have borne the brunt of this failed and destructive economic experiment. The Women’s Budget Group has found that 86 percent of the Government’s so-called tax and welfare ‘savings’ have come at the expense of women.

The U-turns and concessions we have wrung from this Government in the last year have in the main been victories which have stopped further cuts that would have disproportionately impacted upon women such as the cuts to Tax Credits. I am pleased that having set out a clear anti-austerity, pro-investment economic policy Labour has changed the terms of economic debate in this country.

But there is much more to be done. Our society continues to be marked by grotesque levels of inequality, magnified by the actions of this Government and the previous Coalition. We have to address the indefensible penalties which women pay in their everyday lives simply for being women. We need to keep campaigning loud and clear to tackle inequality wherever it is found.

I would like to pay tribute here to Paula Sheriff for her campaigning work on the tampon tax It is campaigns like that that will make the difference on so many issues for women across Britain. It means tackling inequality in the workplace where women remain in the lowest paid jobs and too often are paid less than men even where they are doing the same job.  I am proud that through our Workplace 2020 campaign, the Labour Party is setting out an ambitious vision for dealing with these issues I urge all of you to get involved in that campaign. And I want to pay tribute to Siobhan McDonagh for standing up for low paid women at M&S who are being deprived of the benefits of the increase in the minimum wage.

We know that creating a society in which everyone can achieve their full potential will also drive the creation of a stronger economy and that economic equality benefits us all. The Women1s Business Council estimated that equalising men and women1s participation in the economy would add 10 percent to GDP by 2030.

During the recent leadership campaign, we put forward a range of policies aimed at achieving equality for women policies built on the work done over the past year.

Through investing £500 billion backed up by a publicly-owned National Investment Bank and regional banks in infrastructure, manufacturing and new industries to move us to a high skilled, high tech, low carbon economy. We can transform our country’s economic fortunes and the opportunities and life chances of women across the country. We have set out concrete measures to achieve equal pay. Improving access to justice through abolishing Tribunal fees. Providing the Equality and Human Rights Commission with enhanced powers. Strengthening employment and trade union rights and taking on the occupational segregation in our labour market which contributes so much to women’s concentration in low paid, insecure work.

I have committed to the Labour Party publishing a regular ‘gender audit’ of our policies to better communicate the positive impact all our policies will have on moving us towards a more equal society. And I have committed to consult on establishing a high level, strategic Women’s Advisory Board supporting the work of the Shadow Secretary of State for Women and Equalities and linked to the Leader’s Office to ensure gender equality is at the heart of all our policies.

I would like to take a moment here to thank Angela Rayner an MP who throughout the summer fought tooth and nail to hold the Tories to account on education, grammar schools, equality and women1s rights. Not for one second has she paused in that fight and I want to thank her for all that she has done.

To enable women1s equality we need to remove the barriers to their participation whether that is because of insecure work expensive childcare or entrenched out­ dated attitudes. The TUC report 1Still just a bit of banter?1found that more than half of all women polled have experienced some form of sexual harassment in the workplace. This is unacceptable. Campaigns such as the Everyday Sexism project have powerfully used social media to expose the day-to-day examples of sexism in every aspect of women1s lives.  Under my leadership1 the Labour Party has committed to consulting and working with women’s and other relevant organisations on how to strengthen the law and its implementation to tackle sexual harassment and threats online and increase organisations1 responsibility towards promoting safe and respectful ‘community standards’ online.

‘Reclaim the Internet’ which many colleagues here today1 including Jess Philips have been supporting brings together women1s campaigns think tanks trade unions and media platforms to challenge the abuse that women face online.

Women who are in the public eye including women in politics face greater challenges, and outrageous abuse both on and offline. Wherever abuse occurs1 it is incumbent upon us all to ensure that it is taken seriously and challenged. And we must acknowledge the terrible truth that the abuse, threats of violence and bigotry that women in all walks of life are subjected to online are a manifestation of attitudes, culture and society offline. Some 85,000 women are raped in England and Wales every year and domestic violence remains an appalling blight on our society. It will affect a quarter of all women in their lifetime. Two women a week continue to be killed by their current or ex-partners.

Colleagues in the women’s PLP have done an inspiring job of highlighting issues of domestic violence. One of the women in my own team said that she had been moved to tears by the powerful testimony of Angela Smith recently in Parliament as she recounted the tragic story of one of her constituents whose children were murdered by her abusive partner. That is why we are determined to resist at every opportunity the imposition of further cuts on services for women and girls facing violence cuts which have been devastating.

Supporting the provision of services re-balancing the economy ensuring that the law protects the rights of women. These are all changes in the world out there which I am confident we all want to see and they are changes which will only come about, I believe, if we are prepared to make changes in the world in here within our own Party.

Our party should be as inclusive as possible. I am committed to taking forward the recommendations of the Chakrabarti Inquiry to consult on and introduce a wider Equal Opportunities Policy, training and guidance for both Party members and staff. If we are to increase women’s representation, voice and power in society as a whole we must increase them too within the Labour Party. I have been clear in my support for All Women Shortlists to achieve 50:50 representations in Parliament. We should aim for 50:50 representations across all public offices with gender balanced shortlists.

Making this conference a representative and democratic annual policy making conference is a step towards strengthening women’s voice within the Labour Party.

Whatever result you were hoping for in the leadership election, I imagine that we are in agreement that it is deeply regrettable that the announcement of the election result should have been scheduled for the same day as this conference.

I hope very much that you will all enjoy Women’s Conference and that this will have been a rewarding and enriching day for you all. And I hope that for those of you who remain here in Liverpool you will find the rest of the week equally enjoyable and stimulating. I look forward to working with you all over the coming weeks, months and years and building a united Labour Party that together can win the next election and win for women across Britain.

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The events of 2015 proved that the British left needs a fundamental intellectual re-set. In less than six months, mainstream social democratic ideas were rejected twice over, with Ed Miliband’s bitter general election defeat and Jeremy Corbyn’s victory over the traditional centre left. 19 years after Tony Blair’s first election victory, it is the end of the road for a political project that began in the dark days of 1983.

This crisis is not unique to Britain, however. All over Europe the centre left is struggling to define a new creed, in the face of unprecedented economic dislocation and the challenge of populist movements. Building on past achievements is no longer enough. It is time to go back to the fundamentals.

So when we started making plans for this book, we turned to a similar re-set moment in the left’s past and sought inspiration from the New Fabian Essays, the foundation text of post-Attlee revisionism. Published in 1952, those essays brought together a new generation of Labour thinkers – including Crosland, Jenkins, Mikardo, Crossman and Healey – with the aim of moving beyond the ideas of the 1945 government.

The essays were not a rejection of the Attlee legacy, nor a tack to left or right on the passing questions of the day. Instead the essayists’ aim was to rebuild the foundations of social democratic ideas, to reflect the fast-changing world around them. They succeeded, and the New Fabian Essays marked the turning point in Labour’s 20th century thought, where egalitarianism supplanted collectivism as the organising idea of the British left.

The essays were an explicit reproach both to the theoretical purity of unbending, doctrinal socialism; and to pragmatic reformist government when it becomes untethered from underpinning principles. Today, the same critique is true. Renewal cannot come from the sort of Blairite hero-worshiper who is unable to move on from the politics of the mid-2000s; nor from the die-hard Corbynite, with beliefs lodged in permafrost since the 1980s.

In any case, arguments about the degree to which Labour should oppose austerity or the detail of the UK’s security commitments do not establish new principles. Crosland wrote in 1952 that “dissension between Gaitskellites and Bevanites has no relevance to the future of socialism”. Then, as now, the issues at stake “raised no issue of longterm principle, nor threw into relief the direction of future advance”.

The intellectual energy behind the 1952 essays was instead a deep engagement with how the world had changed since the ideas of the 1945 government had emerged. And in this book we have been guided by the same spirit, and sought to explore how the left should move on from the worldview of both 1983 and 1997, to reflect the Britain of the 2020s.

As the introduction to the 1952 essays remarked, even the best ideas eventually get out of date: “partly due to the achievements of the Labour movement…partly due to changing social conditions” and partly “from inadequacies in the original analysis”. Almost 65 years later, those words remain the starting point for any project of renewal. So in our search for a new revisionism for the 2020s we begin by examining the lessons from the recent past and those ‘changing social conditions’ which will define the future.

Looking to the past

It is a paradox of successful political projects that they burn themselves out by achieving their most significant objectives. That was certainly the case for the 1945 government, with its success in creating the post-war mixed economy. But it was also the case for New Labour. One reason Labour needs to renew is because the 1997 government changed Britain for the better. Indeed, in some cases this change was so profound that the Conservatives have chosen to build on Labour’s achievements, as in the case of gay rights and the minimum wage.

So a project of social democratic revision does not face the challenge of slashing pensioner poverty or achieving high employment. The country now has a near-universal system of early years education, sends half its young people to university and educates many of its poor children very well. New life was breathed into the NHS and social housing, with the quality of each transformed. And the case for a carbon neutral economy was won.

Not only have these and other achievements significantly altered Britain’s social and political order, but they have also created a new context for the left’s intellectual journey. As the 1952 essayists said, we must not re-fight old battles, by seeking to do a little more of the same. The achievements of the past are not a model to replicate, but foundations on which to build something new.

So the left must not settle for a defensive, conservative politics that seeks to reset things to how they were when Labour was last in office. As Crosland warned in his Fabian essay, intellectual renewal must not be confused with “the defence of past achievements” or “repair and consolidation” in the face of reaction from the right. That means, for example, that we must oppose austerity without giving the impression that matching 2010 spending levels is an end in itself.

To renew, the left needs a clear-headed appreciation of where our recent analysis was wrong or incomplete. On economics, social democrats must be equally challenging of ‘old’ and ‘new’ Labour. Over the least 30 years, the British left was right to reject state socialism; but wrong to be so relaxed about the UK’s particular variety of capitalism. It was right to focus on poverty; but wrong to pay so little heed to inequality between top and middle. And, linked to these two points, it was insufficiently attentive to assets and debt, as drivers of both inequality and financial risk.

In office Labour was also right to insist on more productive and consumer-oriented public services; but wrong to focus on top-down control and market incentives as the way to bring this about. It was too wedded to means-testing, as the most efficient solution to poverty, without sufficiently considering the merits of universal or contribution-based alternatives. It failed to build enduring institutions to entrench its goals, which meant that progress on issues like child poverty could quickly be reversed. And its paltry record on reforming taxation, improving vocational education and increasing housing supply shows that the party did not grasp how strategically important these issues were.

The left also failed to appreciate the feedback loops between government action and public attitudes. It was too slow to recognise that unprecedented EU and global immigration would have profound social, cultural and political implications. And it did not anticipate the attitudinal consequences of devolution. Social democrats inadvertently stoked both anti-migrant and nationalist sentiments, and these in turn helped alienate Labour from many of its working-class supporters.

This is not an exercise in blame, however. Understanding past analytical inadequacies is only useful if it is used to draw lessons for the future. Looking forward, on economics, the left must learn to be activist, but not statist; it needs to rethink its principles and priorities for the welfare state; and it must think about public policy, as Margaret Thatcher did, as a tool to ‘change the soul’.

Changing social conditions

Since the 1980s and 1990s Britain has also changed in ways that have little to do with either the successes or failures of the Labour party. Above all, we live in a different economic world. For although the crisis of 2007/2008 revealed longstanding vulnerabilities, which New Labour might have tackled sooner, it also ushered in a new and unforeseeable chapter in our business history.

The stagnation of productivity and pay is now the critical economic question of our times. In the last decade both output per worker and real earnings have barely risen, despite the backdrop of exceptionally loose monetary policy. No one can say with any certainty when this picture might change. So, unlike in recent decades, the task of turning investment and innovation into rising output and higher pay must be the left’s over-riding economic goal. And it is a challenge we must address in the context of a globalised economy, which has reduced the bargaining power of typical British workers, even as it has brought huge benefits to the people of middle income nations and economic elites in the west.

At the same time, the left must adapt to the consequences of wage stagnation and address the new challenges it has thrown up. Perhaps the most pressing is the question of intergenerational distribution. Since the crisis, the living standards of young adults and families have been hit the hardest; by contrast retirees have seen their pensions protected and their assets rise in value. As a result, for the first time in history typical retired households now have higher living standards than those of working age. And yet in the context of austerity, special protection for pension and healthcare spending has skewed the balance of expenditure towards old age, and away from support for young families and investment in the future.

But spending less on older people is not the answer because, even now, Britain is ill-prepared for rapid population ageing in the 2020s. The NHS is divorced from social care and housing support, and is still designed to address discreet illnesses, rather than the prevention and management of chronic, complex and overlapping conditions. Over the next 10 years demand for health and care services is likely to increase even faster than today, as older people live longer with disease and disability, and as the annual numbers of deaths starts to rise after decades of decline. And the chances of family and friends stepping in to fully bridge the gap are slim: many more people are living alone; there are fewer traditional, nuclear families; and most people are working flat-out at the time their parents need care.

Meanwhile, digital technology is driving rapid change in the way we work, consume, communicate and access public services. Technology is creating opportunities for control and choice, as the age of hierarchy, standardisation and scale is supplanted by horizontal networks, collaboration and personalisation. But the digital revolution is also giving rise to new concentrations of power and risks of exploitation, with our economic lives becoming more atomised, commoditised and fragile. In this age of individuality people face more complexity, instability and risk as well as greater freedom.

This has serious consequences for pay and the quality of work. In the future, if there is no workplace organisation to bid up wages, or long-term sectoral partnerships to redesign occupations around skilled work, then rates of pay will stagnate and the middle of the labour market will contract further. There are even those who predict that a radical new wave of automation might destroy more jobs than it creates. This would imply an end to full employment, to upward pressure on wages and hence to rising domestic consumption, the usual driver of British economic growth.

As collective, risk-sharing institutions decline people seem to be becoming more individualistic. The British today have a strong sense of personal responsibility, but also rising expectations about others and weakening social deference. The latter often takes the form of healthy scepticism about economic and political elites, but it is also tipping over into populist contempt which, on a political level, is reflected in the rise of Faragism and Corbynism. The collapse of trust in politics, as a vehicle for improving people’s lives, is now itself a major barrier to achieving change.

A future left agenda

This is the landscape for the left’s renewal in the 2020s: new social facts; new ways of seeing the world; and new foundations, in the shape of Labour’s past achievements. Together this degree of change suggests a political project which must differ significantly from Labour programmes of the recent past. The authors in this book explore different dimensions of the world of the 2020s and the shape of responses in much more detail. But here let me conclude by sketching some possible directions of travel, on four key fronts.

First there are two questions which the 1945 government set out to solve: how to grow and share prosperity in a mixed economy, shaped by government activism and private enterprise; and how to pool risks and create opportunity with a welfare state designed for its times. Both questions need new answers to reflect our age. Then there is the challenge posed by the 1952 revisionists, of how to secure equality and substantive freedom, which alas remains unanswered to this day. And finally, there are questions that have emerged since their time, arising from social liberation and economic globalisation: issues of personal, national and communal affiliation; of our relationships with family and locality; and of Britain’s status in an uncertain world. Together this comprises the new politics of identity.

A new mixed economy

The 1950s revisionists assumed that the post-war mixed economy would become part of the furniture. But within 30 years it had been supplanted by a neo-liberal order with a negligent conception of the role for government. The left needs to revive the spirit of activism which pervaded the post-war period, but without the baggage of nationalised industries and national plans. The task for the 2020s is not to recreate Keynes’ version of the planned economy, but to build a new model of a mixed market, shaped by enterprise, competition and government action, designed for the global, digital age.

Government leadership and fair, open markets must be the twin pillars of productivity growth and broad-based prosperity. The government must again be an economic leader, in the way that was unremarkable in post-war Britain and is unremarkable today in so many other European economies.

  • Leadership and coordination: use investment, regulation and market signals to steer the economy in pursuit of long-term goals, above all decarbonisation; create government-industry partnerships to reshape sectors, jobs and skills; target full employment and asset price stability with monetary and fiscal policy.

  • „ Investment and capacity: significantly increase public investment on infrastructure, development and innovation, in ways that crowd-in private spending; promote new public, mutual or non-profit players in failing markets like housebuilding or energy to boost capacity and change behaviours.

  • Risk and economic power: use regulation to challenge the market power of dominant incumbents; initiate new opportunities for worker and consumer collectivism to redress imbalances in economic power and spread ownership and responsibility; re-create ways to share economic risks, from collective pensions to job creation programmes.

Refounding social insurance

Thanks to successive generations of social democrats, the welfare state of Beveridge and Bevan still stands to this day. But it needs updating for new risks, needs and expectations. The left in the 2020s must set out to recreate what Beveridge called ‘social insurance’ for the modern world we face. Its goal must be to match need and spending power, over the course of our lives, with entitlements derived from past and future contributions.

Since the turn of the century we have already made good progress on reforming pensions and only incremental improvement will be needed in the 2020s. But we are failing to respond to other changing needs, especially the nature of today’s ill-health, housing need and the economic vulnerabilities of modern working life.

  • Meeting health-related needs: integrate health, care and disability support, in a way that maximises personal control; secure consent for higher public spending, by creating earmarked ‘health taxes’; robustly regulate and ‘nudge’ to improve the nation’s health.

  • Financial support before pension age: commission a new Beveridge plan for working-age protection that reflects modern economic risks; introduce extra tiers of contribution-based benefits and lifetime accounts; consider how to merge tax reliefs and universal credit into a single system of financial support.

  • Affordable housing: drive a massive increase in housebuilding, in sustainable, mixed communities, by increasing land supply and construction capacity; promote large-scale borrowing for social housebuilding, through gilts or special ‘housing bonds’, secured against future rents and housing benefit savings.

Equality and freedom

The 1952 essayists argued that the new hallmark of social democracy should be a radical egalitarianism of human capital, substantive freedom and social connection. In this, their ideas foreshadowed later, multi-faceted conceptions of equality, such as the capability approach pioneered by Amartya Sen and Martha Nussbaum. But they gave the politics of equality an important British twist, with their emphasis on reducing the social distance and status insecurity associated with class.

Today, inequality is still rampant, and in guises that would be depressingly familiar to social democrats of the 1950s. The Fabian essayists understood that the advance of equality and practical freedom was not a narrow question of income distribution through the labour market, tax and benefits. In the 2020s we need new strategies to tackle the priorities they identified and reduce inequalities of opportunity, wealth and power.

  • Life chances and education: support stronger relationships and parenting, including more time with children, especially for fathers; demand world-class teaching, facilities and curriculum for the bottom third, so no child is set up to fail; focus support in teenage years on ambition, emotional wellbeing and cultural capital; create credible skills and work pathways for every young person aged between 18 to 24.

  • Equalising wealth: create nudges and subsidies for low and middle earners to save and build assets, especially younger generations; reform financial and monetary policy to target stable house prices with the aim of reversing the decline in homeownership; significantly increase the taxation of land, assets and large pension savings; develop ideas for UK sovereign wealth funds.

  • Power, status and participation: spread people power within public services, including personal control and collective leadership; increase participation and power for employees in more collaborative workplaces; broaden and deepen institutions of local civil and political participation.

The politics of identity

Politics is out of touch with people’s lives. Trust in politicians is declining, the distance between elector and elected is widening and authenticity and conviction seem to be in short supply, in our professionalised political culture. In part this stems from the way we practise politics and that must radically change. But it also arises from the social forces sweeping through society, which pose particular challenges for the left. With communities becoming more diverse, deference on the wane, and the main route into positions of leadership being universities not workplaces, it has become very hard for social democrats to really be tribunes of the people.

In the second half of the 20th century the left’s politics took community for granted. It reflected an industrial age of scale and homogeneity and was characterised by uniform, nationwide and impersonal collective action. Inadvertently other pre-1945 traditions, based on smallerscale, self-organising forms of collectivism were swamped: co-operation, municipalism, guild socialism. Now that we cannot take old social bonds for granted, a new politics of identity must again nurture and cherish solidarity and collectivism in people’s everyday lives. This means encouraging collective, autonomous institutions; and resisting the temptation to always intervene with national policy tools.

Lastly, many people also sense that the moral intuitions of social democrats are not the same as theirs. We seem only to value care, fairness and liberation, while most people also honour loyalty, authority and sanctity, to use the lexicon of the US academic Jonathan Haidt. In the context of rapid social change and an increasingly elderly population, the left has been too dismissive of people’s anxieties and aspirations with respect to security, tradition and the non-material dimensions of life. We must not sacrifice our old values, but we need to show we share all those dimensions of morality that people hold dear; and, in particular, find a new confidence to talk about family, patriotism and immigration.

  • Politics: demand fundamental organisational and cultural change within political parties, so they speak with conviction, and work alongside communities and civic society; embrace an approach to politics focused on institutions and communities not policy levers; investigate reforms to democratic institutions to bring politicians closer to people’s lives.

  • Place: adopt radical and coherent devolution of money, responsibility and democracy to cities and counties with a strong sense of community; lead debates with confidence on English identity and be open-minded about future England-wide and regional governance.

  • Immigration: make credible promises on managed migration, including lower annual immigration than today; work with employers to make them less dependent on migrant labour and exploitative employment relationships; take a tough approach to integration, focused on the responsibilities of newcomers.

First published by the Fabian Society

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Last week in Parliament the Labour Party was united in attacking the latest Tory attack on the NHS. The mechanisms of the attack are technical-sounding Sustainability and Transformation Plans (STPs). In reality these are Secret Tory Plans to decimate the NHS and Labour is determined to fight them.

There is no dispute in Labour about the importance of the NHS, which remains the most cherished in the country. Labour established the NHS. It needs defending from this Tory Government like never before.

STPs are primarily financial mechanisms to impose cuts, “control totals” in the Tory jargon. STPs will bring together trusts and clinical commissioning groups (CCGs). In part this is an unavoidable repair to the damage caused by Andrew Lansley’s own Health and Social Care Act, which all the Tories supported. But the new STPs will inherit the debts of all the trusts and groups. Typically these run into hundreds of millions of pounds. In a few STPs the projected debts are more than £1bn and for Greater Manchester STP the deficit is expected to be £2bn by the end of this Parliament.

STPs have to close these deficits with cuts. Except for a few leaks the plans themselves remain secret, without publication or consultation or evidence, but the consequences of the plans have already become apparent with announcements of the closure of key departments and hospitals throughout the country.

The plans are based on expectations that veer from the ridiculous to the scandalous. We are told a mobile phone app will reduce the growing demands on the NHS caused by obesity. The most vulnerable and elderly are expected to use Skype in doctor consultations, risking humiliation and misdiagnosis. In the case of one plan in north west London which has been leaked, there will be fewer acute beds in six years’ time than now despite a projected increase in population and its ageing.

The NHS is a universal service and can only survive if it stays that way. But we know that the poorest, the most vulnerable and the elderly are the biggest users of the NHS.  They are the least likely to have smartphones or Skype access, or be comfortable with using them. They are going to be the biggest losers from the latest Tory reorganisation of the NHS. Everyone will lose in terms of waiting times and access.

As shadow Secretary for State, I led the assault on these hugely damaging plans in parliament. Campaigners such as 38 Degrees and Open Democracy are raising public awareness and making life uncomfortable for Tory backbenchers. Colleagues from all wings of the party were united in flaying the Tories for the effects of these ferocious Tory cuts.

This is only the beginning of this battle. Public anger about the closures of beds, units, departments and whole hospitals throughout the country will only rise. A united Labour Party will stand up for them and stand against Tory plans to decimate the NHS.

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