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The Labour Conference and the Big Care Debate

The final Labour Conference before the election; would the tone be going out with all guns blazing a la Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid or one mired by infighting and every man for himself? In the ornate lobby of The Grand Hotel, it felt more like the Titanic with people denying the reality of a sinking ship.

At a meeting with Labour Ministers Phil Hope, Gillian Merron and Mike O’Brien, we were asked to imagine a world in which we had to deal with a Conservative Government. The Tories would listen and respond to us less we were told.

Phil Hope and Andy Burnham (Minister for Care Services & Secretary of State for Health) also spoke at a Big Care Debate event where it was repeated again that moving finances for Disability Living Allowance into social care budgets will not happen. However, it is clear that because of the ambiguity (see previous blog) in the Green Paper, the Big Care Debate has turned into a series of denials on a single part of the proposals.

Actual debate on other issues does not seem to be widespread, which is harming the chances of changing the social care system for the better. Millions of lives are affected by our social care system and millions more will be, but we as a general population are not engaging with this debate. Is it because we do not care, or is it because of a lack of knowledge?

I accept that whole family assessments does not make sexy news, but for families with multiple care needs this could be key to getting the support that is best for everybody and not just an individual (Phil Hope was very interested in this idea by the way). Perhaps most people have not considered whether there should be a single national assessment process or variable local ones, but surely this is highly relevant in a world where people move around more. Some may not know that you have to pay for social care and others may believe that they will never need it, but we should still be debating whether we should all pay regardless of whether we use social care or not.

Labour say the Tories won’t listen, but what are they meant to be listening to? I guess that is up to us all.

One thing we do want Labour to listen to is that PCTs are not using the £50m allocated to provide breaks for carers for that purpose. This is partly because of a lack of information given to PCTs by the Government. Secretary of State for Health Andy Burnham has said that he will listen and we are to set something up after the conference. However, listening is only one part, we want action. You can help by signing the carers breaks petition

Take Care

Gordon

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September 28, 2009 - Posted by | Labour, Party Conferences | , , , , ,

8 Comments »

  1. Did I work for a carers charity the first question that I would have put to any minister at the Labour Party conference would have been on the lines, “Is Carers Allowance safe from threat with the proposals in the green paper?”

    Comment by webglynne | October 1, 2009 | Reply

    • Hi Glynne

      The lack of explicit guidance in the Green Paper has left many carers asking the question that if Attendance Allowance is removed and the person I care for will no longer receive that, how I will that affect me qualifying for Carer’s Allowance? I think this indicates a lack of foresight on the Government’s behalf and a result of their ambiguity.

      However, Ministers have attempted to clarify the situation belatedly and have confirmed that Carer’s Allowance would still be available even if Attendance Allowance was removed in favour of extra funding for social care budgets. The conversations are actually focusing on increasing support for carers as I had with Yvette Cooper MP on Wednesday, although disappointingly she resisted advising that increases would be hard when they are trying to limit overall government expenditure. However, we will keep pressing.

      Thanks

      Gordon

      Comment by Gordon | October 2, 2009 | Reply

  2. “”””I think this indicates a lack of foresight on the Government’s behalf “”””

    Or maybe they still have it in mind that carers will move to JSA at some point…………………….

    “”””but we as a general population are not engaging with this debate. Is it because we do not care, or is it because of a lack of knowledge?””””

    Add in there lack of awareness.

    In this long recess that the MPs just had, they should have planned local consultation events in every constituency with notices placed in local papers, council offices etc.This way each MP regardless of the party they represent would have been left in no doubt as to how their constituents felt about these matters.It would have been a true debate, gathering real opinions from those these proposals would affect.

    “”””Labour say the Tories won’t listen, but what are they meant to be listening to? I guess that is up to us all””””

    It makes no difference to how loud we raise our voices if their ears remain shut.

    The govt want a National Care Service….they already have the foundation of one with the many family carers.They are emphasising how we face a crisis as the number of elderly increase and yet for many families who provide care they are already in a crisis situation.

    As the years go by and more people are needing care(in many cases nursing care ) at home, more pressure will be placed on families.So, as much as the govt press ahead with helping those carers who want to work access support etc, so in turn they have to ensure that those who do heavy end caring, those who care 24/7 and unable to return to work, that they too receive the same amount of support.

    Its about time we had someone in govt with a real vision of how care will be provided in the future. Someone who will realise that building from the bottom up will benefit the country as a whole.Someone who will not put measures in place that will distance the govt from being held accountable in the future.

    With almost every amount of money that govt allocate for new schemes, to local authorities and as you mentioned Gordon, to PCTS,it is either ‘lost’ in the system or by the time it reaches those intended for, the amount is minimal.

    If I can return for a minute Gordon to your comment …

    “””I think this indicates a lack of foresight on the Government’s behalf “” ………

    and twist it round a little. The Green Paper they released has raised more questions than the govt can answer.It lacks substance/detail and by withholding some of the options for debate,it has not been a true consultation event.Are we surprised though………..I think not.

    Comment by Rosemary | October 4, 2009 | Reply

  3. Hi Gordon

    Don’t know who made the statement:-

    “Carer’s Allowance would still be available even if Attendance Allowance was removed”

    But they need to be told that’s impossible, the rules for those qualifying for AA allows a person to claim Carers Allowance, but as soon as the person getting AA ceases to qualify then they lose their CA, its as simple as that.

    Given that Yvette Cooper, the Sec of State for Work and Pensions, did NOT say DLA was going as well as AA and CA I think we can all take it as read that they WILL be going, some time soon as they need to cut £20bn off of their budgets over the next 2 years.

    Will they be offering free membership of Dignitas as a way of saving money I wonder?

    Could be, anything goes nowadays!

    Ian.

    Comment by ians1 | October 4, 2009 | Reply

  4. Hi Gordon so how about an answer to this? Why did you not ask?

    1.Did I work for a carers charity the first question that I would have put to any minister at the Labour Party conference would have been on the lines, “Is Carers Allowance safe from threat with the proposals in the green paper?”

    Comment by webglynne | October 7, 2009 | Reply

  5. The alleged comment by Phil Hope “be happy, DLA is safe”, or words to that effect, appears to be a hoax, as there has been no confirmation of this position to any press enquiries we are told.

    ian

    Comment by ians1 | October 8, 2009 | Reply

  6. Is C A safe now and for future carers?

    Comment by webglynne | October 9, 2009 | Reply

  7. It seems to me to be fairly clear that AA and DLA are seriously under threat, but that it would require a change in the law to remove them. Such a change can, obviously, change the conditions under which CA could be claimed, so the real issue is:

    Is CA safe? And if so, what will the new qualifying conditions be?

    I somehow doubt that the government has gone even half way towards working that out. Now is a good time to knock the stupid idea on the head immediately. AA and DLA are already an ideal form of personal budget: set according to need and according to nationally applied rules (if inconsistently sometimes). They can be used as needed to pay all kinds of bills associated with disability – something the government relied on when dismissing the idea of heating costs for disabled people. Why change it now?

    Comment by charles47 | October 10, 2009 | Reply


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