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http://media.conservatives.s3.amazonaws.com/manifesto/cpmanifesto2010_lo...<

For months, the Tories have been planning a domiciliary care plan to accompany its voluntary insurance scheme for residential care, under which people would be able to pay £8,000 and have any care home fees waived for life.

However, the manifesto said only that the party would "work to design a system where people can top up their premium - also voluntarily - to cover the costs of receiving care in their own home".

The Tories reiterated their stance against Labour's plan to introduce a compulsory levy on all adults to fund care, on the basis that it would penalise family carers.

It said it would support carers with direct payments and improved access to short breaks and introduce a new per-patient funding system for all palliative care providers so people were treated in the place of their choice.

It also reiterated plans to provide people with chronic conditions access to a single health and social care budget, which they can control. This would mean a rollout of personal health budgets, which are now being piloted, and a removal of restrictions on individuals combining health and social care funding.

Unlike Labour's manifesto, the Tory document contained no reference to how the party would reform social work training and practice, nor was there any reference to dementia care.

The Conservatives also restated plans to scrap Labour's existing employment support programmes and amalgamate these into a single work programme for everyone who is unemployed.

Like Labour, the party would reassess all current claimants of incapacity benefit, moving those found fit to work on to jobseeker's allowance, which is worth £25 a week less than incapacity benefit.

Related stories

Labour pledges improved services for dementia patients<

Charities fear effects of Conservative cuts<

Tories plan public sector job cuts of 40,000 this year<

http://www.communitycare.co.uk/Articles/2010/04/13/114275/tories-omit-ho...<

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The Tories lost a key skirmish to Labour today as the charity Age UK accused the Conservatives of ducking the issues of an ageing society in their manifesto<.

The charity formed from Age Concern and Help the Aged said the manifesto contained little new support< for older people who needed help and protection and gave it even fewer points than Labour against Age UK's 18 key election priorities - five as opposed to Labour's eight.

The Conservative Party did not reveal any details of its long-awaited plan to fund home care, to accompany its residential care scheme, under which people would be able to pay £8,000 and have any care home fees waived for life.

Charity director Michelle Miller said older people would be "surprised" to find the Tories had remained silent about specific issues concerning them.

While there was much in their manifesto to encourage fit, active and engaged older people to contribute to society, it had largely "shied away from tackling the challenges of an ageing society".

Miller said: "Voluntary insurance to pay for care with the possibility of a top-up to cover the cost of home care is fine for the people who can afford it but falls well short of a solution to the funding crisis facing the care system. There are no new announcements to equip the NHS to cope with an ageing society."

The charity was more complimentary about Labour's manifesto<, highlighting its commitment to introduce a national care service, paid for by compulsory contributions, though only after the next election but one.

It also pointed to four new announcements on employment, state pensions and health care, including plans to reform the GP contract to ensure depression in later life was diagnosed and supported.<

However Miller said Labour still needed to do a lot more to turn rhetoric into practical policies to improve later life.

Age UK gave the Liberal Democrats six out of 18 for their manifesto< policies for older people, saying positive policies to immediately scrap default retirement ages and relink rises in the state pensions with increases in average earnings had been undermined by the party's social care stance.

While the Lib Dems, like Labour, backed the establishment of an independent commission on care funding after the election, Age UK said they had not set out a policy direction for a long-term care funding settlement. This is in contrast to Labour, which backs a national care service with services free at the point of need but funded by compulsory individual contributions.

Related stories

Tories omit home care and social work from manifesto<

Labour manifesto pledges improved services for dementia patients<

http://www.communitycare.co.uk/Articles/2010/04/14/114281/age-uk-tory-ma...<

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Many vulnerable people could lose out under the Tories' proposed 'three strikes' policy< to crack down on those who repeatedly defraud the benefits system, campaigners have warned.

Under the plans, those who commit benefit fraud once will lose their out-of-work benefits for three months, a second offence will attract a benefit sanction of six months, and if someone commits fraud three times they face losing their out-of-work benefits for up to three years.

The Tories claim that more than £14 billion has been wasted on benefit fraud between 1997 and 2009.

The policy follows on from last year's Tory announcement of a 'three strikes and you're out' rule to bar jobless people from claiming unemployment benefit if they turn down offers of work.

The Disability Alliance said this latest proposed crackdown could catch out innocent claimants.

This is because too many inaccurate payments are due to errors by the Department for Work and Pensions or the Benefits Agency and are not due to intentional fraud by the claimant.

Policy director Neil Coyle said: "Are the Tories going to match this with an equivalent 'three errors and you are fired' policy?

"The complexity of the system leads to both assessors and claimants getting things wrong. What we really need is more support for people to understand the full welfare system.

"But increasingly organisations like Disability Alliance have had their funding cut so independent advice is not unavailable unless you've got the ability to pay."

Coyle added that the figures the Tories were using were "misleading" because they appeared to include overpayments by benefits agencies, not just people committing fraud.

He also has concerns over how this matched up with the Tory policy to tackle poverty and thought potentially it could lead to increased levels of petty crime.

Campaign group Community Links also attacked the plans. Chief executive Geraldine Baker said: "“Withdrawing benefits will drive people into debt and destitution and homelessness, entrenching poverty rather than tackling its causes. Crackdowns further stigmatise people on benefits, by giving the impression that most claimants are cheating the system. In fact, over 99% of claimants are not committing benefit fraud."

Shadow work and pensions secretary Theresa May said: "This is about fairness. While the whole country is tightening its belt it's scandalous that thousands are managing to defraud the taxpayer out of billions."

The plan follows news that up to 40,000 public sector jobs could be cut in the first year of a Conservative government< as a result of vacant posts not being filled.

Related stories

Incapacity benefit claimants face reduced welfare payments<

Interview: Mark Harper, Conservative disability spokesperson<

Disability groups concerned about Tory benefit plans<

http://www.communitycare.co.uk/Articles/2010/04/09/114247/disability-all...<

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Conservative proposals to deliver £12bn in public sector efficiency savings will damage the capacity of councils to safeguard vulnerable people, charities and agencies have warned.

In an interview with the Financial Times, Peter Gershon, an adviser to the Conservatives, said £1bn could be saved in 2010-11 by reducing the use of agency staff and not filling vacant posts<.

A further £2bn of savings would be made through cuts in IT spending if the Tories come to power after the general election on 6 May.

However, charities have called on the Tories to stop focusing on "populist, unit-led efficiency savings".

Helen Donohoe, director of public policy at Action for Children, said: "Finding efficiency savings in children's services is about early intervention and supporting families earlier so problems don't spiral out of control."

She said all political parties needed to move away from short-termisim and realise that real efficiency savings in children's services might not be able to be made in the space of one parliamentary term.

"It's the same argument public health has been having over the past 10 to 15 years. We can't get bogged down in simplistic modelling that's focused on jobs and IT contracts," she said.

Recruitment agency Eden Brown, which supplies temporary social workers to local authorities across the UK, said if councils had to cut their use of agency social workers they would struggle to fulfil statutory duties to safeguard vulnerable adults and children.

Simon Ray, associate director, said: "The next government should concentrate instead on raising morale and encourage people to choose social work and social care as a permanent career choice."

James Rook, managing director of specialist social care agency Sanctuary Personnel, said more spending, not less, was needed to strengthen social care services.

"At a time when there is more pressure than ever before on frontline services, it is clear that in order to save the public purse and to protect children, there needs to be more money invested into frontline services and support provided for children and families at the earliest possible stage."

Phillip Noyes, director of strategy and development at the NSPCC said they were concerned that Tory plans for efficiency savings would hit frontline child protection.

"That's why we have launched our 'I Stand for Children' campaign which aims to ensure the next government introduces vital child protection reforms and secures essential funding and resources for this area."

Related articles

Heather Wakefield tells Unison members to fight council cuts<

Social care workers face pay freeze from April<

http://www.communitycare.co.uk/Articles/2010/04/09/114253/charities-fear...<

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David Cameron has warned of the dangers of a hung parliament and said only a "decisive" Conservative government would "get the job done".

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/election_2010/8626639.stm<

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From Pinknews.co.uk<

 

Conservative Party leader David Cameron has been urged to sack a shadow minister who disagreed with the age of consent for gay men because it poses an "HIV risk".<

Dr Julian Lewis, the incumbent MP for New Forest East and the shadow defence minister, wrote a letter to a constituent in which he argued that the age of consent for gays should not have been equalised in 2000.<

In the letter, <first seen by PinkNews.co.uk,<Dr Lewis, who is standing for re-election, wrote that there was a "seriously increased risk of HIV infection arising from male homosexual activity".<

He added: "When it comes to legalising practices that involve serious risk, I believe the higher limit should apply. This is the reason we no longer allow 16 and 17-year-old into front-line situations in the Armed Forces, for example."<

Last night, home secretary Alan Johnson called on Mr Cameron to sack Dr Lewis.<

Mr Johnson wrote: "You have been actively seeking the votes of gay people throughout Britain, but your frontbench team includes people who are evidently against any notion of homosexual equality.<

"You need to show some leadership and sack Mr Lewis. Otherwise your claim that the Conservative Party represents change will prove to be nothing but a shallow public relations exercise."<

A Conservative Party spokesman said: “These are Dr Lewis’ long held and personal views, they are not the view of the Conservative Party and the terms in which he expressed them is wrong. Dr Lewis did, on a free vote, support civil partnerships.<

“Under this Labour government we have seen a massive increase in HIV infections and STDs across all the population – straight and gay. Labour has failed to tackle the crisis in sexual health which is why a Conservative government would make it a priority. We would protect spending on public health and do more to give people the information they need to live healthy lives.”<

Dr Lewis uses the title of doctor, although he is not a medical professional. Instead, he holds a doctorate from Oxford University<

He has voted against most gay rights measures, such as adoption rights for gay parents and the repeal of Section 28. However, he wrote in his letter that he supported civil partnerships.<

He wrote: "On the other hand (though no one seems to have noticed), I voted in favour of the Civil Partnerships Bill. One of the criticisms commonly made of gay relationships is that very often they do not last.<

"It therefore seems obvious to me that, when a gay couple wish to commit to each other, by forming a permanent relationships, they should be encouraged and assisted in every way."<

Shadow home secretary Chris Grayling recently had to apologise after he was secretly filmed telling a meeting that he agreed bed and breakfast owners should have the right to bar gay couples.<

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Andrew Lansley says new evidence uncovered by the Conservatives makes a mockery of Gordon Brown's claims to be protecting frontline NHS spending.

Buried in Government reports, we have uncovered secret plans that could lead to cuts of almost £5 billion in total in the NHS budget.

"Gordon Brown promised voters that he would protect the NHS and protect frontline services, but these figures reveal that Labour are actually planning secret cuts", Lansley, the Shadow Health Secretary, said. 

"They will cut the number of nurses, the number of doctors and the number of hospital beds. It does not get more frontline than that."

  • More than half of hospitals are planning to cut the number of doctors they employ. We have uncovered plans for a net cut of 650 doctors in England.
  • More than half of hospitals are planning to cut the number of nurses they employ. We have uncovered plans for a net cut of more than 2,000 nurses in England. 
  • NHS West Midlands – the only area to provide regional figures – is on its own planning to cut almost 1,000 nurses. 
  • Three in five hospitals are planning bed cuts. We have uncovered plans for net bed cuts of 1,500 in England.
  • We have also obtained a copy of the workforce plan of one trust, which shows a four per cent cut in the number of consultants and a ten per cent cut in the number of nurses and midwives. 

"Under Labour, the number of managers has risen five times faster than the number of nurses", Lansley said. "Our NHS has been weighed down by a bloated bureaucracy which means precious resources aren’t being spent on helping patients".

"Only the Conservatives will protect the whole of the NHS budget – both Labour and the Lib Dems have refused to do so.  We will cut NHS bureaucracy by a third and we will make sure frontline patient care comes first."

http://www.conservatives.com/News/News_stories/2010/04/Labours_secret_pl...

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How taxpayer-funded foreign aid is being used to spread government-endorsed ideology

Caroline Boin is Project Director at the International Policy Network< in London. Here she summarises some of the findings of a new IPN paper published today, Fake Aid: How foreign aid is being used to support the self-serving political activities of NGOs<.

It appears the Labour Government has overseen even more cronyism and waste than we imagined. Over £1 billion of supposed “foreign aid” is channelled to UK-based organisations to spread government-endorsed ideology.

Many recipients are Labour-friendly groups like the Trades Union Congress (TUC), which has received £1.2m from the Department for International Development (DfID) to fund its own trade union campaigns and buffets in Westminster. And yes, this is part of the “foreign aid” budget that we all fund through taxes.

Published today by International Policy Network, the Fake Aid< report details the shocking use of these budgets that didn’t even exist before 2000. This is entirely a Labour-induced use of taxpayers’ funds, but as well as holding Labour to account, we must demand to know how an incoming Conservative government would right these wrongs.

Andrew Mitchell’s shadow international development team has promised an Independent Aid Watchdog to scrutinise foreign aid spending and ensure that funds are allocated only when programmes are shown to alleviate poverty. It is vital that this is applied immediately and rigorously and that this body doesn’t just become another pointless quango. 

DfID has been handing out unrestricted grants with no accountability, often handpicking its favourite charities. Even worse, performance measurement has been judged as poor by the National Audit Office and indeed, by DfID itself. But despite a lack of transparency and little evidence that the funds are doing good, DfID continues to up its grants.

After three years of initial DfID funding, the TUC submitted a “desk impact study”, based exclusively on its own “evidence”. Funds for an independent review had originally been safeguarded, but were axed after the budget overran because they gave their staff pay rises.  Funnily enough, the TUC deemed that the grant was a “highly successful project”. DfID responded by renewing the grant for a further three years – and what’s more, they increased it by 66%!

Another programme - the “Development Awareness Fund” - gives money solely to UK organisations to promote government-supported views on climate change, trade, HIV/AIDS and so on. The vast majority of programmes are targeted at children.  One programme, for example, funded kids in the UK to talk to kids in Nepal about HIV/AIDS and “stigma”.

Unsurprisingly, the National Union of Teachers is being given the maximum level of grants under this scheme (£300,000). The aim is supposedly to turn teachers into “global agents of change”.

Some of you may have seen the website FakeCharities.org. Well, it needs to include this “charity” pronto – Connections for Development (CfD).  The group was founded and is entirely funded by DfID. What does it do? “Provide a forum” for BME [black and minority ethnic] groups to talk about development issues. In wonderful Whitehall-speak, the National Audit Office said:

“There is a lack of clarity about the purpose of the organisation.”

Over its first two years, CfD received £600,000 of taxpayers' money. It only has five employees and its expenditure aside from staff wages is casually listed as “Other costs” (exceeding £160,000 in its last accounts). They are currently violating Charity Commission rules by failing to submit their accounts in time, so there’s no way of telling what they’ve been up to since 2007.

The paper amusingly calls these groups “GONGOs” – government-organised non-governmental organisations. If we’re to have a bonfire of QUANGOs, groups that fall under this paradoxical description must face the same fate.  It is simply unacceptable that they are being funded with taxpayers’ cash and presenting themselves as independent.

The largest funding programme is the Partnership Programme Arrangements, worth over £100 million this year alone. Worryingly, the Conservatives have said they intend to continue this programme which funds some of the UK’s largest charities. However, they’ve also said this is on the condition of “evidence of effectiveness and results”. Foreign aid money should only be given to non-governmental organisations when their programmes convincingly prove that they assist poor people in poor countries.  DfID’s free-for-all for its Labour-friendly pals must stop.

http://conservativehome.blogs.com/platform/2009/09/caroline-boin-how-tax...

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Conservatives to recognise one third of marriages in the tax system

The Conservative Party has announced how it intends to recognise marriage and civil partnerships in the tax system if it forms the next government. It plans to make up to £750 of the income tax personal allowance transferable between adults who are married or in a civil partnership, so long as the higher-income member of the couple is a basic-rate taxpayer.

Download full version (PDF 300 KB)<

http://www.ifs.org.uk/publications/4811<

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