10 June 2024

Lib Dems put £9.4bn NHS and social care pledge at heart of pitch to voters

10 June 2024

The Liberal Democrats would fund a £9.4 billion package for the NHS and social care in England by hiking taxes for banks and closing loopholes used by the super-rich, the party’s manifesto sets out.

At the start of a week where the Tories, the Green Party and Labour are also expected to set out their election pledges, the Lib Dems will unveil plans to improve cancer care, repair hospitals and invest in public health.

The plan would include a right to see a GP within seven days, improving access to NHS dental care and wider availability of mental health services.

It is outrageous that pensioners are forced to endure the indignity of being left in hospital corridors while millions of people struggle to see their local GP or dentist

Sir Ed Davey’s party has focused its campaign on Tory-held seats in the so-called blue wall and sought to reassure voters by ruling out increases to income tax, VAT and national insurance contributions.

Instead it will fund its plan through tightening capital gains tax rules to squeeze an extra £5 billion out of the wealthiest 0.1% in the country and a £4 billion tax hike for banks.

Sir Ed said: “How the Conservative Party has treated our NHS is a national scandal.

“Years of neglect and chaos under the Conservatives have left our health services in a state of crisis.

“It is outrageous that pensioners are forced to endure the indignity of being left in hospital corridors while millions of people struggle to see their local GP or dentist.

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

By 2028-29 a Liberal Democrat government would provide an extra £3.7 billion a year for day-to-day spending, helping to recruit 4,000 GPs and retain a further 4,000 within the profession.

The party plans to boost cancer survival rates and introduce a guarantee for 100% of patients to start treatment for cancer within 62 days from urgent referral.

Some £1 billion a year would be earmarked for capital investment in hospitals, equipment and other health infrastructure.

Another £1 billion would go to public health, with the aim of helping people spend five more years of their life in good health.

And there would be £3.7 billion for social care – a subject close to Sir Ed’s heart.

The Lib Dem leader has spoken of his experience caring for his disabled son and, as a child, looking after his terminally ill mother.

His party would introduce free personal care so that provision is based on need, not ability to pay, and a higher care workers’ minimum wage, set £2 above the minimum wage.

The manifesto will also set out plans to overhaul the water industry and tackle sewage pollution, a key theme of the Lib Dem campaign.

It would also include a policy of putting a dedicated mental health professional in every primary and secondary school.

And it will promise a new burglary response guarantee to tackle unsolved crimes.

Meanwhile, the Conservatives and Labour were also setting out key policy pledges as they prepared to launch their manifestos.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak sought to draw a line under the row over his early exit from the D-Day 80th anniversary events in France last week by setting out a plan to recruit 8,000 more police officers.

The £810 million annual cost of the policy would be funded by hiking visa fees and removing the student discount on the immigration health surcharge.

“More bobbies on the beat and increased powers will give police forces the tools they need to drive down neighbourhood crime even further,” he said.

After a weekend in which he declined to take reporters’ questions on Saturday and avoided the national media on Sunday, Mr Sunak will face a major BBC interview on Monday night.

Labour set out plans to convert more than 3,300 primary school classrooms in England into nurseries, creating 100,000 childcare places.

Sir Keir Starmer said: “After 14 years of Conservative government, too many children are starting school already behind, and too many parents are being held back from fulfilling their career ambitions.”

Labour also said its plan to provide free breakfast clubs in England’s primary schools would save parents more than £400 a year and help lower absence rates.

Reform UK will set out plans for the economy, with Nigel Farage expected to say tens of billions could be saved by stopping the Bank of England paying interest to commercial lenders on their quantitative easing reserves.

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