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Cameron, Clegg and Milliband agree to social care reform talks

Trekkies love it when Captain Jean Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart) orders in a commanding, deep voice “make it so” and in an instant his crew set to work. Mistakenly, we often think that politicians have similar power.

Paul Burstow MP, Health Minister, honestly wants the NHS to do more to support carers. He thought providing additional money (£400m) and requesting the NHS to work with carers’ organisations on plans and budgets would provide this. Of course,  our report showed that this has not happened. Burstow told us at the Lib Dem conference that he was upset at this, was trying to improve the situation and will give even stronger guidance that the NHS has to prioritise carers.

But he cannot make the NHS do this because they have local decision making powers and no one person can control everything that happens in an organisation as large as the NHS.

The Government is actually structured so that power is shared amongst many people – Prime Minister, the Cabinet, MPs, Lords and other advisers. Some hold more than others, but each have some power with nobody having absolute power. And they all have their own priorities fighting to be the one Government acts upon.

This is why Burstow has appealed for disabled people, carers and charities to get angry and make a racket of noise regarding social care reform following the Dilnot and Law Commissions’ recommendations. He wants reform and says that he will be angry if the Lib Dems does not make this a priority.

Norman Lamb MP, chief adviser to Nick Clegg, said he wants social care reform in this Parliament and that any reform must mean more money for social care. However, his message was that it will only happen if politicians keep hearing from the public that reform must happen. Otherwise it will slip down the list of priorities.

Cameron, Clegg and Miliband have agreed to cross party talks on social care reform. This is a good start but only a start. The Government have announced another listening exercise for the reform of social care. This can either be used to build consensus on future reform or delay the need for a decision pushing reform further down the list of priorities.

Burstow and Lamb understand the urgent need to reform social care but not everybody does. I was left aghast when John Hemming MP (Lib Dem) said he did not see the connection between reforming social care and helping workplace productivity and employment, despite having just heard from John Lewis Partnership that more and more people are struggling to combine work with caring because support from social services is lacking.

We have to realise that for some, social care reform is not an issue or a priority. We need to change that. We need to make sure leaders and MPs from all parties hear how important it is to millions of people. It’s time to make some noise.

Gordon

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September 21, 2011 - Posted by | Carers Strategy, Conservatives, David Cameron, Liberal Democrats, Party Conferences, Social Care | , ,

10 Comments »

  1. Paul Burstow MP, Health Minister, honestly wants the NHS to do more to support carers. He thought providing additional money (£400m) and requesting the NHS to work with carers’ organisations on plans and budgets would provide this. Of course, our report showed that this has not happened. Burstow told us at the Lib Dem conference that he was upset at this, was trying to improve the situation and will give even stronger guidance that the NHS has to prioritise carers.

    This is why Burstow has appealed for disabled people, carers and charities to get angry and make a racket of noise regarding social care reform following the Dilnot and Law Commissions’ recommendations. He wants reform and says that he will be angry if the Lib Dems does not make this a priority.

    Cameron, Clegg and Miliband have agreed to cross party talks on social care reform. This is a good start but only a start. The Government have announced another listening exercise for the reform of social care. This can either be used to build consensus on future reform or delay the need for a decision pushing reform further down the list of priorities.

    We have to realise that for some, social care reform is not an issue or a priority. We need to change that. We need to make sure leaders and MPs from all parties hear how important it is to millions of people. It’s time to make some noise.

    Gordon

    when i read this letter i could not BELIEVE that you could write something like this.

    FOR 26 YEARS I AND MILLIONS OF CARERS HAVE BEEN TRYING TO GET THE POLITICAL PARTIES TO LISTEN TO US TO ACT- DEFEND AND CHAMPION THE THE CAUSE OF CARERS

    AND FOR ALL OUR EFFORTS WE HAVE GOT VERY LITTLE IN RETURN

    I AM SO SORRY THAT THE MINISTER AND MANY OTHERS ARE UPSET BY WHAT HAS
    HAPPENED WITH THE MONEY FOR CARERS BUT ITS ALWAYS THE SAME STORY THE RICH GET RICHER AND THE POLITICIANS GET MORE POWERFUL AND BETTER PENSIONS
    BUT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    CARERS GET NOTHING EXCEPT A KICK IN THE TEETH

    I DESPAIR !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Comment by Taras Kurylak | September 22, 2011 | Reply

  2. Is it bad form to leave a comment on your own post, before anyone else has?!

    Anyway, here’s some key text from the motion the Lib Dem conference passed on social care. Conference calls on the Government to:
    1. Use the publication of the Dilnot Commission recommendations as a basis for implementing long-overdue reform of the social care system, including to:
    a) Ensure that people are protected from the high costs of their social care.
    d) Extend the means testing threshold, guaranteeing support for those of lower means.

    2. Implement the Law Commission’s main recommendations, including to:
    b) Build a single, streamlined assessment and eligibility framework to be implemented consistently nationwide.
    e) Improve portability within the social care system, ensuring people do not have to negotiate a new care package when moving between local authority areas.

    3. Create an independent Older People’s Commissioner for England, funded in part by the private care industry.

    Gordon

    Comment by Gordon Conochie | September 22, 2011 | Reply

  3. I hear everything you say Gordon, I also watched some of the speeches at conference. However, the comments from Burstow and Lamb are to me patronising. You already know how many carers have raised their voices, time and time again. Between yourselves, Carers UK, and others, there have also been many campaigns to highlight all the problems.

    The fact remains that the Coalition, and in turn the Libdems, (also Labour) KNOW what the problems are, they KNOW what is needed. Yet still we get more words and very little action.

    Where there is a will, there is a way…………..sadly lacking from those in power.

    Comment by rosemaryukRosemary | September 22, 2011 | Reply

  4. I echo Rosemary’s comments.

    Turning the clock back , Henry Ford had a best selling car .the Ford T …. only one problem ? You could have any colour you liked so long as it were black.

    Same can be said for the main political parties. No of which have any idea what life is like for the millions of elderly / disabled / carers … and many trying to avoid debt by working for / near to the minimum wage.

    The chasm is continuing to grow with , no doubt , the leading Charities ready to man the soup kitchens …. something , at long last , for them to do practically.

    The Time for talks / more discussions / meetings has long past … about time the Charities realised this , and formulate their future plans accordingly. In turn , perhaps they would elect to challenge their own usefulness in political settings.

    After all , their failure to accept anything other than scraps is clear to be seen.

    Comment by Stephen Knight | September 23, 2011 | Reply

  5. I so agree with Stephen Knight’s,above post.

    The time of talking HAS long gone. And it is about TIME SOMETHING PRO-ACTIVE POSITIVE AND THAT ACTUALLY MAKES A DIFFERENCE to carers,disabled elderly mental health sufferers and lives, WAS done. LONG ago….Period!

    Simple as that.

    Comment by Chrissie Manfredi | September 26, 2011 | Reply

  6. Hiya
    Rosemary, Stephen and Chrissie all make the same points about the length of time carers and families have been waiting for the social care system to be reformed. Along with everybody, we are really disappointed that after the Law and Dilnot Commissions reports, rather than producing a White Paper, the Government has engaged upon another listening exercise before a White Paper in April 2012. As my boss asked what more do they expect to learn after yet another listening exercise?

    Personally, I think the first reason for this listening exercise was the failure of the Government to get support from various organisations and people for their health reforms before publishing their proposals. The subsequent opposition has caused huge policitcal problems and they don’t want to make the same mistake with social care so they are being overly cautious by trying to ensure consensus before publishing the White Paper.

    The second reason is that each time a party tries to reform social care, the media and opposition parties lambast them for things like “death taxes” whilst opinion polls show that reforming social care is not one of the top priorities for the general public. So, lots of criticism for little praise. I think the Government are progressing painfully slowly to allow for talks with Labour, as I reported, to build cross party support for whatever proposals make it into the White Paper.

    I don’t think Burstow and Lamb were being patronising to be honest. My first part of my blog tries to explain that despite Lamb and Burstow being in power, they do not have all the power. The real people we need to convince that social care reform must happen now are peole like George Osborne because they also hold power that can make it happen.

    You are right that we do know what needs to be done, but people like Osborne need to believe that it is a priority over other things. And there are a whole load of people who are making noise to put their issue at the top of the agenda. Has Osborne ever had a person in his surgery demanding for social care to be reformed? Can we get a 100,000+ signatures on an online petition? These are the things that need to happen to get the politicians to take the action we need.

    And it is these kind of actions that charities are working together to try and organise. If there is no talking, then there will be no action. And then there will be no change.

    Comment by Gordon Conochie | September 26, 2011 | Reply

    • To be frank Gordon , it is the mindset of politicians that needs changing in respect of the kind of Society which needs to be built from the ashes of the current one.

      For many , the only real hope is a full scale financial meltdown wherein the Old order is replaced , from the bottom up , by a fairer Society wherein the rich can still get rich ( only more slowly ) , and those of us at / near to / even below the accepted Poverty Line are protected against the ravishes of the free market economy.

      As it stands , and economic woes aside , it would not take much for a full scale social meltdown to occur. Factor in another cold spell allied with horrendous rises in unemployment , energy / food / housing costs and , you have all the ingredients needed for someone .somewhere , to light the fuse.

      Maybe difficult to understand unless one is towards the bottom of the economic / social pile BUT , for those of us who are ( 1 in 5 / 6 of the population ) , nothing but REAL change is needed.

      Carry on with your discussions / talks by all means ….. meanwhile , we’ll continue to try to survive on a daily basic in our world , a world which might as well be on another planet as far as the current thinking of those purporting to represent us goes.

      Comment by Stephen Knight | September 26, 2011 | Reply

      • Just one further point on the mindset of politicians.

        The so called party to the Left ( more pink than red ? ) have indicated that the rise in VAT be temporarily suspended to encourage growth in the economy. Further arguments continue over the 50p top rate of income tax , presumably , with the same goal in mind.

        How many carers / elderly / disabled / unemployed / persons on near to the minimum wage would vote for an alternative …. the reduction in food / energy / housing costs in any combination you like ?

        For many , to pay for the bare essentials of life in this country is a continuing struggle , for a sizeable minority , juggling between staying warm and eating regularly is a daily occurrence.

        So much for the Will to even thinking of what’s needed as a first step towards a new , fairer , society.

        ,

        Comment by Stephen Knight | September 27, 2011

  7. The patronsing part was this :-

    “This is why Burstow has appealed for disabled people, carers and charities to get angry and make a racket of noise regarding social care reform following the Dilnot and Law Commissions’ recommendations.”

    Carers and families are already angry, many passed that point some time ago. How much more noise can they make. Asking them to get ‘more’ angry is a cop-out.

    “Can we get a 100,000+ signatures on an online petition? These are the things that need to happen to get the politicians to take the action we need.”

    The above should be one of the Easiest things to achieve.

    If we link in the memberships of the Care/Elderly and Disability Alliances, all of them promote such a petition 100,000 should be well achievable.

    Local carer/disability offices , groups for the elderly could help people set up an email address so they can sign up

    Use e newsletters/hard copy news circulars to spread the word too.

    Comment by rosemaryukRosemary | September 26, 2011 | Reply

  8. I see at the Care debates at Labour conference last night it was suggested that carers and their families ‘crank up the volume’. Just how loud do they want it to be and how long for.

    We had the Hardest Hit protest in May and now regional events. The noise is already here but the willingness to listen is not.

    Like Stephen has stated – ” it is the mindset of politicians that needs changing in respect of the kind of Society which needs to be built from the ashes of the current one”

    Comment by Rosemary | September 27, 2011 | Reply


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