UK Election: What it could all mean for older people and housing in Wales
In a couple of days, the country goes to the polls in the most important General Election for decades. As the sound and fury of the election campaigns near an end, what should older people expect from a new UK government? How could it affect the 30,000 older people Care &Repair support in Wales each year to live independently in warm, safe and accessible homes?
Here at Care & Repair Cymru we have sifted through the main party's manifestos to see how their commitments could affect the homes and lives of our clients. We have kept in mind that health, housing, social care and other key areas are devolved to Welsh Government. We also recognise that a new UK Government will decide how much money Welsh Government is given to deliver these public services. Importantly, a new UK Government will also decide how much older people get in benefits.
While we have no crystal ball, we have considered the possible implications of the party's pledges:
- More money whoever wins: Whoever wins the election, overall day-to-day public sector spending in Wales is set to increase by approximately £1.9bn a year in line with previous government commitments. Any manifesto pledges are additional to this.
- If elected, the Conservatives would maintain the status quo: Day-to-day public sector spending in Wales would increase by approximately 1% up until 2024, most of which would be earmarked for health. They would also increase investment spending by approximately £500m a year through 'growth deals' across Wales regions.
- Labour and/or a coalition government would turn the taps on: Spending on day-to-day services could increase by up to 18% (more with the Green Party less with the Lib Dems). Investment in decarbonising and upgrading infrastructure, such as energy, transport and housing could also increase by over £3bn a year (this could be over £5bn with the Green Party).
- Current Welsh Government policy will develop at a pace and scale that reflects funding allocated by a new UK government: Welsh Labour's manifesto outlines its intention to develop and transform health and care services with additional funding. It wants to deliver more care closer to home and will consider extending free social care to more people.
- All parties commit to improving the energy efficiency of homes: However, the money to support these commitments and timescales vary. Labour, Plaid Cymru, Lib Dems and the Green Party all pledge large scale investment over the short-term with varying carbon neutral targets between 2030-2045. The Conservatives provide little detail on funding and are aiming for 2050.
- Older people's benefits will be maintained: All the parties have committed to maintaining and in many cases improving pensioner benefits, including proposals to scrap planned raises to the state pension age (under Labour) and increase the overall pension payment (under the Green Party). Both Labour and the Conservatives have guaranteed the Winter Fuel Allowance, free TV licences and free bus passes as universal benefits for older people.
Care & Repair Cymru is always committed to our charitable responsibilities of remaining impartial and non-party political. We are of course happy to provide any information requested by candidates to help inform their commitments, if it supports our mission to ensure all older people in Wales live independently in warm, safe and accessible homes. We also provide updates like these to our 13 local Care & Repair agencies to keep them abreast of policy changes that may affect their work improving older people homes.