• Labour's stall in Portishead. Photo credit: Ken Abbott Photography
  • Photo credit: Ken Abbott Photography
  • Photo credit: Ken Abbott Photography
  • Sadik Al-Hassan — Labour candidate, North Somerset

    North Somerset Labour Party were out in force in Clevedon, Portishead, and Nailsea on Saturdays 1 June, 25 May, and 18 May, speaking to voters about Labour’s plans for a National Care Service.  

    The three town centre sessions revealed strong support for the Labour Party’s ambitious long-term plan for reform of adult social care that will lead to a world-class National Care Service.

    Shoppers in the three towns were invited to respond to the question ‘How important is social care to you?’. A total of 145 people stopped to put a sticker on a scale of 0-10, with 0 being not at all important and 10 very important. Nearly all responses were above 7.5. Many were literally ‘off-the-scale’ – demonstrating the strength of feeling for some.

    Shoppers talked about how this was an issue that has been ignored for too long. Those who stopped to talk expressed strong support for Labour’s plan to address the crisis in social care.

    “We need something to pick people up when they fall over,” said one voter.

    Others spoke about the need for proper funding and decent pay for staff. “Pay care workers enough” was one request and “all carers should have the minimum wage” was another.

    According to government figures, 30% of children’s social work jobs at North Somerset Council were unfilled last year. An early priority of Labour’s National Care Service will be a Fair Pay Agreement. Wages will rise and care workers will earn the same, no matter where they work in England. This will make working in care more attractive, allowing the sector to start filling the huge holes in its workforce.

    While the government’s settlement funding for North Somerset Council has been cut by 74.5% in real terms since 2010/11, the numbers of those needing social care is rising. The number of people aged 65 or older in North Somerset has increased by 22% between 2011 and 2021, and there has also been a rise in the number of children entering the care system in North Somerset.

    Sadik Al-Hassan, Labour’s general election candidate in North Somerset, said: “As a local pharmacist, I know all too well the problems people face getting the help they need to live independent lives in a system that doesn’t seem fair.”

    If elected on 4 July, Sadik said he “will fight so that everyone has the care they need and to undo the failures of this Tory government”.

    The proposed National Care Service will be underpinned by the principle of ‘home first’, delivered through prevention, early intervention, and technology. There will be a set of national standards — enforced by a strengthened regulator — which will end the postcode lottery for care and clamp down on the poor employment practices alarmingly prevalent in this sector.

    “I got a real sense that many people caring for loved ones are struggling in silence. They are trying to cope on their own, without knowing where to turn to for help and support. It was painful to hear the hidden suffering,” said Hildegard Dumper, a Labour Party volunteer on the stalls. “We want them to know that there is hope ahead in the form of a Labour government,” she added.

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