Labour leader says care system is letting down older people and Tories have driven NHS into ‘danger zone’
Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour leader. Photograph: Leon Neal/Getty Images
A Labour government could take thousands of nursing homes into public ownership to protect the welfare of residents, Jeremy Corbyn will announce in a speech aimed at portraying him as a champion of the populist left.
As part of the relaunch of the Labour leader as a politician who taps into public discontent with inequality, Corbyn will claim that he anticipated political shocks such as Brexit and the rise of Donald Trump, and will say he stands for “a complete break with this rigged system”.
In a key section of the speech on Saturday to the Fabian Society conference in London, Corbyn will castigate Theresa May over what he calls an NHS in the “danger zone” and a care system that is letting down older people.
A total of 380 care home businesses have been declared insolvent since 2010, Corbyn will say, according to excerpts of his speech released in advance.
“So a Labour government would give social care the funding it needs and give a firm commitment to take failed private care homes into public ownership to maintain social care protection,” the speech says. “It’s the least we can do to guarantee dignity for people who’ve given so much to our country.”
Much of the address is written in the more informal style of the Labour leader’s recent relaunch by his team as a would-be populist, ideologically opposite to the likes of Nigel Farage and Donald Trump but using language that similarly lambasts a system supposedly fixed against ordinary people.
The new style, announced before Christmas, had a rocky debut this week when a heralded change of approach on immigration was overshadowed by Corbyn’s varying series of comments about the idea of a maximum wage cap.
In Saturday’s speech, Corbyn will say he anticipated the likes of Brexit and Trump’s US election victory. “Last year’s global political earthquake didn’t just come out of the blue. There are many of us who had felt the tremors growing for years,” he will say. “The people who run Britain have been taking our country for a ride. They’ve stitched up our political system to protect the powerful.”
Other elements of the speech rail against a “system [that] simply doesn’t work for the vast majority”.
He will say of the government: “They’ve rigged the economy and business rules to line the pockets of their friends. They’ve slashed taxes on the richest – £70bn from now till 2022 – and cut pay and vital services for the rest.
“They’ve sold off our country’s assets and handed over public services to be milked by tax dodgers. They’ve piled up debt while failing to invest in the jobs and industries of the future.”
Among a series of promises to create a fairer society, Corbyn will say: “We will provide a long-term funding solution to our most precious national treasure, our NHS. I don’t keep talking about the NHS because it’s in Labour’s comfort zone. I talk about the National Health Service because it’s in a danger zone.”
While the effectiveness of Corbyn’s new style remains unproven, the Conservatives appear to have already made up their minds. On Friday evening the party sent out a fundraising appeal to members, saying the first week of the Corbyn relaunch had shown how “out of touch, chaotic and incompetent” Labour was under him.
Speaking to Sky News on Friday, Corbyn said the departure of Tristram Hunt to run the Victoria & Albert Museum, soon after the loss of another MP, Jamie Reed, did not indicate that he was under internal pressure.
“I don’t want to lose MPs but he [Hunt] has taken this position as director of the V&A – good luck to him,” he said. “I haven’t lost control of the party, the party isn’t out of control. We are a very large party with a growing membership.”
Revised government data released late last month showed that the care home sector was facing worse troubles than previously believed. It gave the figure of 380 businesses declared insolvent since 2010, 98 more than the initial count.
The data showed the rate of insolvencies had accelerated, going from 32 businesses in 2010 to 74 in 2015. These ranged in size from families running one care home to nationwide operators.
The number of collapses is expected to increase further, with even big chains facing the pressure of lower council funding to pay for care. Four Seasons, the biggest care home operator in the country with more than 400 properties, recorded a pre-tax loss of £264m last year.