Jewish News meets Philip Hammond: ‘Community should be proud of its social care’

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Jewish News meets Philip Hammond: ‘Community should be proud of its social care’

On a visit to Finchley, the chancellor discusses the key role of Jewish charities and the refugee crisis

Chancellor Phillip Hammond
Chancellor Phillip Hammond

 Philip Hammond has paid tribute to the Jewish community’s social care provision. Speaking during a visit to Finchley, the chancellor told Jewish News: “You are lucky to have strong charitable and not-for-profit- organisations that provide long-term care.”

Hammond, who was joined by local MP Mike Freer at the sports and outdoor group Pentland Brands last Thursday, acknowledged that the £2billion allocated to social care in the last budget was just a start and that local authorities now had access to as much as £9.2 billion for this provision.

He welcomed the role of charities and specialist providers to contribute to the Green paper that will be published before the summer recess on the long-term plan for social care.  Freer pointed out the additional costs of supporting a diverse community, such as in Barnet, when considering social care funding. “As a constituency MP, one of the things I have to argue is that the cost of kosher meals or of providing women carers to look after women and male carers for men in Orthodox care facilities is not always factored into the fair funding formula”.

Asked about the anti-Semitism crisis engulfing the opposition, Hammond said Jeremy Corbyn needed to “personally demonstrate that he is not responsible in any way for allowing anti-Semitism to stain the Labour party”.

Hammond added: “Politicians have a duty to lead by example and our national political organisations have to demonstrate that they are free of these kind of completely unacceptable practices and prejudices.

“Unfortunately there is recurring evidence that time and time again the Labour Party is not free of this shocking behaviour. They have to clean their act up.”

“…there is recurring evidence that time and time again the Labour Party is not free of this shocking behaviour. They have to clean their act up..”

The chancellor acknowledged the leading role played by Jews across the economy, as investors, entrepreneurs and, above all, as innovators.  “The key to innovation is diversity; getting people from different backgrounds and cultural approaches bouncing off each other,” he said. “As our economy moves forward, innovation and creativity is a British strength and the Jewish community contributes disproportionately to our business life.”

Hammond also discussed the role for charities and specialist providers to play in guiding the government to advance its social care provision.

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Defending the government’s record on the refugee crisis, Hammond noted that Britain was “now seen as an exemplar of good conduct” and that “the UK has been second only to the US in providing financial support”. He added: “We took a distinctive course, but can be proud of our record; the way we have mobilised throughout this crisis. Our approach is now seen as the way to address the issue for long-term sustainability.”

He also noted that a debt of gratitude should be paid to Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan, which have taken in huge numbers of refugees. “We are committed to taking in 20,000 Syrian refugees – unlike other European countries, we are deliberately taking the most vulnerable. We don’t want to disperse the Syrian population across the world so that there is nobody to rebuild once Assad is removed.”

Hammond added that the Government was doing considerable work in the refugee camps, including overseeing the delivery of “a pattern of education to ensure we don’t have a lost generation”.

From a local perspective, Freer pointed out that there was a national shortage of foster carers. “Barnet has done more than most, but we must have the infrastructure in place to support. It’s about having the foster parents, the support in school places and health services because many of these children will need help for many years.” Both stressed that this has to be “a whole community effort”.

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