Jeremy Corbyn: 'People are dying' as a result of Government austerity policies
People are dying because of the Government's austerity policies, Jeremy Corbyn claimed as he urged voters to use two crunch by-elections to "send a message" to Theresa May.
The Labour leader accused ministers of "disgraceful neglect" which had led to an "emergency" in local services including social care.
In a speech to Labour councillors, Mr Corbyn said voters in Copeland and Stoke-on-Trent Central could demonstrate they have "had enough" of cuts.
"We have a state of emergency in our social care system and the worst crisis in the history of our NHS," he said.
Speaking at Warwick University, the Labour leader said the situation in social care was an "absolute scandal that leaves 1.2 million elderly people without the care they need".
He highlighted a report in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, which he claimed said the crisis "was linked to 30,000 excess deaths in 2015", adding: "People are dying because of the choices made by this Government.
"Councils are at breaking point on social care. Decent people deserve decent treatment. Our social care system has been privatised, outsourced and cut. It has dehumanised our parents, grandparents and neighbours."
Mr Corbyn accused Mrs May of leading "a government that gives billions away in tax breaks to big business and the richest and pays for it by cutting the services to the most vulnerable".
"It is this callousness, even brutality that has put local services in a state of emergency," he said.
Mr Corbyn vowed that a Labour government under his leadership "will always provide the NHS and social care with the funds they need".
The twin by-elections - caused by the resignations of sitting Labour MPs Jamie Reed and Tristram Hunt - represent Mr Corbyn's most difficult electoral challenge so far.
With Labour trailing in the national polls, the Conservatives are hoping to make a rare by-election gain for a governing party and pull off victory in Copeland.
The Cumbrian constituency is heavily reliant economically on the Sellafield nuclear processing facility and Mr Corbyn's past opposition to nuclear power is viewed with suspicion by many voters.
In Stoke, which voted strongly for Brexit in last year's referendum, the main challenge is expected to come from Ukip where party leader Paul Nuttall is standing.
Mr Corbyn, who was due to campaign in Stoke later, said Labour would "defeat Ukip's politics of hate" with the "politics of hope and community".
"Ukip's politics of hate must be defeated. Hatred will not save children's centres. It won't build homes. It won't create jobs and it won't fund health and social care. It won't bring our people dignity or bring our communities together."
In Copeland, Mr Corbyn claimed that health cuts were putting the lives of mothers and babies at risk.
"In Copeland, the local council is expected to see a cut of 49% to its funding by 2020. In fact it's one of the ten hardest hit councils in the country," he said.
"West Cumberland Hospital is facing downgrading of maternity services which midwives believe will lead to mothers and babies dying.
"No wonder that when Theresa May visited this week, she refused to answer questions about cuts to maternity services."