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Social care must be a priority in the General Election

a road sign that reads "changed priorities ahead".

We must make social care a priority at the ballot box

Devolution in Scotland has caused some in England to look enviously northwards and ask why is it that they’re getting stuff that people in England are not.

I was at a Mark Thomas comedy gig the other night where a radical suggestion was for eye tests to be free, until I pointed out that they already are in Scotland. Then of course, there is ‘free’ personal care in Scotland, which isn’t actually free but people aged 65+ do receive contributions towards nursing/residential care costs or care at home.

What is not reported is that to fund these policies, the Scottish Government has to find savings in other areas – they have to re-order their priorities.

The Lib Dems announced a re-ordering of their priorities this week, which has meant a focus on fair taxes, extra investment in schools and improving transport and energy production. A loser in this re-ordering has been their commitment to provide a Scottish style system of personal care funding, which has been put on hold until it “becomes affordable again”.

The Conservative Party have also made some policy announcements publishing their draft health manifesto (does this mean it could change?) this week:

– £10 million a year funding beyond 2011 to support hospices in their work with children

– preserve disability living allowance and attendance allowance and allow a single budget for individuals combining health and social care funding

– provide separate public health funding to local authorities, which will be accountable for–and paid according to–how successful they are in improving their local communities’ health.

It also included their previously announced social care policy of people paying £8000 on retirement to receive free residential care, but there’s no announcement yet on their domiciliary care policy…

Politics is all about choices; the choices politicians make and the choices the electorate makes. There may be some issues on which you agree with one party, but on a different issue it is another party you agree with. So we have to make a choice about what our priorities are when voting.

Politicians know this so focus on issues that they think voters care about. “It’s the economy, stupid” is meant to illustrate that the economy is the priority for voters. British politicians often believe the NHS is, while Blair and now the Lib Dems think education is a priority for voters.

What is clear is that for social care to be considered a priority by politicians, we must first make it a priority in how we vote. Folks, it is time to consider our priorities.

Take care,

Gordon

PS. There are Parliamentary outreach events on 26th January in Birmingham, Manchester and Norwich advising how people can effectively engage with Parliament, and understand its inner workings. If you’re interested you can find the details here.

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January 14, 2010 - Posted by | General Election | , , , ,

6 Comments »

  1. “What is not reported is that to fund these policies, the Scottish Government has to find savings in other areas – they have to re-order their priorities.”

    That’s the standard government line. But the reality is that the Scots get far more funding per person than the English via the Barnett Formula.

    Each person gets the following from central government per year:

    * England £7,121
    * Scotland £8,623
    * Wales £8,139
    * Northern Ireland £9,385

    Scots get over £1500 more per person per year from central government. It’s not a case of juggling priorities THE SCOTS GET MORE MONEY.

    Which leads to the discrepancies you have indicated but plus a host of others. Such as cheaper prescriptions, free higher education, no road or bridge tolls, free dental checkups, smaller class sizes, more spent per person on school meals etc etc etc.

    The only way to fairly sort this out is to start funding the people of the UK equally or far closer to equal than is currently the case.

    Comment by Wyrdtimes | January 15, 2010 | Reply

  2. Hi

    I knew mentioning Scotland would stir up a bit of debate! J Thanks for the comment.

    The figures you quote are only relevant to expenditure that can be broken down into geographic areas – what they call identifiable public expenditure. Excluded from such figures that are generally quoted is the expenditure that cannot be broken down geographically and is termed ‘unidentifiable’. It is generally accepted that much of this ‘unidentifiable’ public expenditure is spent in the South East of England providing jobs and investment that otherwise would not be there.

    However, disregarding whether Scotland receives more public expenditure or not, the point is still the same that they could spend any potential additional money on any reserved matter but they chose social care as a priority rather than say reducing taxes which they are able to. The fact that they face choices and have to make priorities still remains, which is what I was trying to get across.

    Gordon

    Comment by Gordon | January 15, 2010 | Reply

  3. The Government has allocated resources to Local Authorities to encourage people who need care to seek Direct Payments, Individual Budgets etc.At the same time Government policy is encouraging Local Authorities to go out to tender for care services. Ministers should be made aware that these two approaches are completely incompatible and inconsistent.

    The inconsistencies in Government policy are demonstrated clearly in Edinburgh, where the Local Authority has gone out to tender for care services. Both care workers in voluntary sector organisations which has lost the tender on the grounds of costs, and those in receipt of care are protesting, because those who receive care are likely to receive poorer care from low cost private providers.

    A large number of recipients of care services want to transfer to Direct Payments rather than receive services from the lower cost private care providers which have been successful in the tender.(see http://www.swanedinburgh.org.uk ). But the Local Authority has limited capacity to process applicants for Direct Payments . I suspect is the case in several Local Authorities in England as well as Scotland.

    In view of the forthcoming General Election, surely the major parties and prospective candidates should be asked about their policies in relation to commissioning care services

    Comment by Peter Senker | February 9, 2010 | Reply

  4. death tax, yes it is a death tax you can try to disguise it with all the words you like but its still a death tax.
    i have been a carer for over seven years looking after my mother who is bedridden after suffering several strokes and now she has bad dementia as well. so is it really fair that when my mother passes away, i am supposed to pay thousand of pounds in a death tax when it was me who had done all the caring. i am so angry with the goverment and the champagne socialist who support this evil tax on carers.

    Comment by david nichols | February 22, 2010 | Reply

    • Hi David,

      We think that some kind of care insurance scheme is needed so that fewer people end up selling their homes to pay for their care, as happens at present. We think there is a strong argument for more of the costs of this care to be met from general taxation, but we are aware that none of the three main parties supports that option, on the basis that it could mean an income tax or National Insurance rise. We do think that some people will like the option of being able to defer paying into an insurance scheme until after they die, via inheritance tax, but we agree strongly with you that, whatever kind of insurance scheme comes to pass, carers should have to pay less or nothing to join it, because carers contribute far more in caring than other families will be asked to pay in cash. No one should spend years caring then find they can’t afford either their own or their relative’s care costs in later life. Our report Crediting Carers sets out one way in which some of people’s caring should be credited to them as a personal budget or an entitlement to support later in life.

      We have a roundtable discussion coming up with representatives of the main parties. We’d be interested in any questions or comments that carers have for the parties (before Friday 5th March, please).

      Alex (signed in as Gordon)

      Comment by Gordon | February 22, 2010 | Reply

  5. Your blog has been one of my favorites of all time. … Thanks for writing such a great blog. I always enjoyed reading it,

    Comment by Lisa | April 11, 2010 | Reply


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