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Changing Politics for the better Pt 7: Social Care

September 6, 2019 Leave a comment

It’s very easy to forget that most of us will become old, and that 1 in 4 of us will require care in the later part of our lifetimes.

Whilst there currently some resentment of the ability for older people to influence politics with their Votes ‘because they won’t be here to see it’, the reality is that every single person in this Country should receive care and support at any time during their life – should they need it, whether it be just through the provision of education, access to the NHS, benefits or more specialised support, that includes Social Care for anyone who needs it when they become elderly.
Most of us would agree with this approach upon reading it. But the reality is that right across the provision of services to people who need them in this Country today, there are too many experiencing lower levels of service than it would be reasonable to expect from the Public Sector, and in some cases, they are not receiving help at all.
Of these services, one of the hardest hit by changes in local Government Budgets and the way that Local Authorities are now run is Social Care.
There is no longer the level of consistency of service provided to guarantee that the support needed, wherever or however that need might require, will be the same for everyone.
This must change.
But we must also address the causes of the problems with Social Care and Public Services first.
When we hear Politicians talking about Social Care and how they intend to address the problem, they will almost certainly suggest that the problem is all about money or lack of funds. Sadly, thinking that throwing money at every problem will solve it, is just something that current Politicians do.
Yes, in the short, but probably only the immediate term, additional funds can appear to make a problem like this go away. But without looking deeper into the much wider problem and facing up to the changes that must now be made, the problems with Social Care and all forms of Public Service Delivery are simply not going to go away.
In a Country as wealthy as the UK appears to be, we should all have unhindered access to the Public Services that we need.
Those Public Services should be affordable if they are managed and delivered in the way that they should be. And we should all be happy that the contributions that we make through Taxes and National Insurance will be spent appropriately and that everyone will receive help and support to cover all their needs, if and when they genuinely need it.
A good Government could begin by:
  • Reversing the European Working Time Directive and replacing any other restrictive working practices that make workers rights more important than the ability of the organisation or business they work for to perform economically.
  • Installing new legislation to protect employees that works sensibly and fairly for both the employee and the employer.
  • Doing away with any rules, regulations and laws that mean it is more cost effective for a Local Authority or NHS Trust to outsource or contract out any role, supply or service to a profit-making private contractor, than keeping the provision or service ‘in-house’.
  • Removing gold-plated and disproportionate pension schemes that are being subsidised by Taxpayers and the expense of service provision.
  • Creating new profiteering laws to prevent third party agents or middle men from taking profit from supply chains at any stage, without adding real value to the services or products offered.
  •  Legislating to prevent Councils and Health Authorities seeing Temporary Staffing Agencies as an easy option to overcome staffing difficulties.
  • Undertaking sweeping Public Sector Reform to ensure that Officers and those employed by any Public Service are ready, able, prepared and unhindered in doing their job, without the influence of blame culture, or fear of doing wrong.
And there is definitely much more….

Pensioners, Social Care and the Questions of inevitability, independence & incentives lost

Getting older is one of the few things left that we cannot actually control in our technical age. But how much thought do you give your ability to retain that independence which many of us today simply take for granted?

Just last week, whilst walking through the rain in the local Sainsburys Car Park, I found myself being beckoned by an old lady who literally called ‘will you come to my aid?’. A non-starting car, a phone-call to discover that her roadside assistance was 10 years out of date and then another to drag a Friday-afternoon-weary mechanic out across Town, all paled into insignificance when she excusingly announced that she was 92.

This terrific pensioner regrettably had nobody whom I could call on her behalf to prevent her just sitting there whilst the time passed to the completion of her rescue. But to be fair, I wouldn’t want to make a song and dance if I found myself in a similarly unwelcome situation and would be lying if I were to say anything other than how much I admired her stoic independence and indifference to such items as the seemingly unused mobile phone, still wrapped and jiffy-bagged in the door-well of her car.

Sadly, not many 92 year olds will be driving themselves to the supermarket before returning home alone today, and this is perhaps where many more of us should be casting our thoughts in terms of what support is put in place for older generations, how it is funded and perhaps most importantly how much of that bill we should seriously expect pensioners with varying levels of need to pay themselves.

The issue of Social Care is jumping in and out of the spotlight at the moment. But are MP’s really thinking about the wider issues involved in this nebulous policy area; about how pensioners really feel about having decisions made for them about everything they have worked for? After all, many who have worked hard and been regular taxpayers throughout their lives are potentially being left without the option to leave something for their families, or perhaps even to leave a legacy to a charity which somewhat ironically the Government might itself need to look to for help as part of its push towards ‘Big Society’.

Many are at a loss as to understand what the term ‘National Insurance’ actually means in all this. If any one person can contribute to the NI ‘pot’ on the understanding that they will be supported when they are in times of need, but find that when that need arrives, a judgement is then made on whether they can help themselves first to outwardly save the public purse, can we truly believe that we have a universally-applicable, balanced and fair welfare system?

Evidence would suggest that not only is the welfare system inherently unfair to those who through their actions choose to regularly pay tax, but that it is those who have always paid who will actually continue to keep on doing so. In a modern, civilised and free society it is little more than idealism that creates a situation where some can have all for the price of giving nothing, whilst others can end up with nothing for the price of being forced to give just about all that they have.

The elephant in this room is a difficult one to deal with and most of us appreciate that fact. But we are living in a society where success and simple hard work are now being penalised in every part of life right up until death, and where making little or no effort is now seen to be the ‘right thing’.

No considerate person would suggest that anybody in genuine need should not be given adequate and appropriate help when they need it. But have we really seen the dawn of times when those that work will pay for everything and everyone else throughout their lives and get virtually nothing back in return?

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