You Need to Be Rich to Grow Old With Dignity in Britain today
15 Sep 2016You need to be rich these days to grow old with dignity in Britain. Six years of local authority budget cuts by the conservative government has placed the burden for caring for our elderly and infirm on their relatives and the over-stretched voluntary sector. Since the Tories came to power, local authorities have responded to these central cuts by allocating 9% less on social care, as demand has grown.
As the government abandons our most in need, a silent alarm is screaming in households across the country. Hundreds of thousands of Britons who struggle to eat, wash and go to the toilet are left to make do. A daily trial, a daily injustice. Access to care now depends increasingly on what people can afford rather than on what they need because the poor are more reliant on the state.
A report published today by the King’s Fund puts the social care funding gap by 2019/20 at £2.8 billion as public spending on it falls below to 1 per cent of GDP. It predicts that that many of thousands of mostly small and medium sized businesses that make up most of the care sector will fail due to the reduction in government grants to the local authorities which pay them. “The possibility of large-scale provider failures is no longer of question of ‘if ’ but ‘when’ and such a failure would jeopardise continuity of the care on which older people depend,” says the King’s Fund.
The social care funding crisis has had the knock-on effect of precipitating another crisis within the NHS because elderly people with nowhere to go are filling A&E departments and hospital wards across the country. The government is depriving the health and social care systems of the money they need to function, leaving it up the blood, sweat and tears of staff to keep our once great NHS together. There is nothing accidental about this crisis. The government is deliberately precipitating shocks in the system so it can bring about its own solutions, which invariably involve more privatization, deregulation and cuts. If the government wants to derogate from its duty to provide care for a growing number of older people in Britain, it must come clean and say so.The alarm cannot ring silent forever.
Labour believes it is the state’s role to provide basic social care for old people with no money. We will be honest with the public about the unavoidable growth in demand on health and social care services from an aging population, and we will provide the finance required to meet these needs.