Lamb’s challenge to Lansley: let’s get to grips with social care

Lib Dem shadow health secretary Norman Lamb has today written to his Tory opposite number Andrew Lansley to urge him to attend this Friday’s conference on social care.

The Tories are refusing to attend the cross-party conference – following last week’s tribal spat – on the basis that the Labour Government will not rule out a compulsory levy. This is despite earlier indications that Mr Lansley accepted that the issue of voluntary versus compulsory schemes was one of the key points to be resolved in a consensus building process.

Norman has also called for the talks to be held in the open, rather than in secret:

Social care is one of the most pressing challenges any new Government will have to deal with. Over the last week care for the elderly has become a political football in a most unseemly way. We must set party loyalties aside and try to get to grips with this problem. 

“I’ve written to Andrew Lansley to urge him to come to this conference. The care system is in crisis and many elderly people are getting inadequate care. The Liberal Democrats want efforts to achieve a cross-party agreement on social care to sort this problem out once and for all. Critically those efforts must engage the public and all those organisations involved in care for the elderly. The Tories will be betraying older voters if they fail to take part

“I want this conference to be the start of a process which engages the public in a national debate as we seek conclusions to this most crucial priority. It should be broadcast live on the internet and people should be encouraged to send in their ideas and views.”

The full text of Norman’s letter to Andrew Lansley is published below:

Dear Andrew,

Care Conference on Friday

My purpose in writing is to urge you to think again about the conference planned for this Friday. On the Politics Show on Sunday you indicated that you would only attend if Labour committed to dropping any possibility of a compulsory inheritance levy.
Surely there should be no pre-conditions to further discussion with care organisations and across political parties.
The draft statement of principles which you put forward included the following statement, which seemed to me to be entirely fair:
‘Beyond these principles, there is also scope for different policy views about the design of policy, including, for example, whether access to insurance against the costs of care should be on a voluntary or on a compulsory basis.’
What we were trying to achieve was an agreed statement as a basis for establishing a consensus building process which would help any new government implement reform. Your recognition, at that stage that there were different options was helpful. You identified one of the key issues which has to be resolved as part of the consensus building process.
Surely the best approach is to attend the conference and argue your case. I believe that we have to demonstrate to the public and to the care organisations – which recognise the absolute importance of reform – that we will work together in a mature way in order to come up with a fair and sustainable system.
Best wishes,

Norman Lamb
Liberal Democrat Shadow Secretary of State for Health

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