Anas Sarwar: Provide free residential care for over 65s
Anas Sarwar has backed the introduction of free residential care for all over 65s who need it.
The Scottish Government has pledged to establish a National Care Service by 2026, following an independent review launched in the light of the high rate of Covid deaths in care homes.
Addressing the Scottish Labour conference for the first time since becoming leader a year ago, Sarwar said the creation of the NCS must not be an “empty slogan”.
He said: “The social care system in Scotland today leaves people stuck in hospital when they should be cared for in the community, and thousands of our older citizens face having to use their life savings and sell their homes to pay for care… I am proud to announce that Scottish Labour will put forward a plan to provide residential care to everyone over the age of 65 who needs it – free at the point of need.
“This will be the single greatest reform of the care service since the introduction of free personal care.
“But we don’t have to wait until 2026. We can take steps right now to set us on track for all care in Scotland to be free at the point of need, delivering a health and care system which people can rely on their whole lives.”
The government is set to introduce legislation for the new service this summer.
It will cover adult social care services, children’s services, community justice, alcohol and drugs services and social work.
Sarwar also used his speech to set out his plans for a new law designed to support families who are effected by disasters and public health scandals.
Dubbed Milly’s Law – after 10-year-old Milly Main who died after contracting an infection while being treated for leukemia – the Scottish Labour leader said it would “fundamentally reset the balance and create a system that is on the side of families, not institutions, and that delivers justice, not cover-ups.”
The proposal would establish an independent public advocate who can act on behalf of families, improve accessibility to legal advice and representation for bereaved families, and extend the duty of candour to other public bodies.
Sarwar also spoke about tackling prejudice and discrimination in Scotland, pointing to his own experiences of racism.
And ahead of International Women’s Day next week, he urged the Scottish Government to make misogyny a hate crime.
He said: “Every single day, there are women across our country who have to think twice when they walk down certain streets, who have to look over their shoulder on a night out, and have to double check the charge on their phone.
“To those that think the answer is to ask women to change their behaviour, I’m sorry, frankly you’re wrong. It is men who need to change their behaviour.
“The pursuit of greater equality is why we belong to the Labour Party.”
The Misogyny and Criminal Justice in Scotland Working Group was set up by the Scottish government last year to consider how the justice system deals with misogyny.
It will report back shortly.
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