Tuesday, 26 June 2018

Let’s commit to a civilised society

Ensuring that senior citizens and adults with chronic disabilities and illnesses are supported and cared for is one hallmark of a civilised society. Unfortunately, right now, each and every day, we are moving further and further away from matching that ambition.
I’ve written and spoken many times about the short- and long-term challenges for adult social care and the impact on individuals and their families, friends and carers.
I am the Chair of the Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee [HoCoLoGo Comm]. Sarah Wollaston is a Conservative MP and a GP and Chair of the Health and Social Care Committee [HSC Comm] Committees.
Because we believed this was so serious, our committees got together, determined to investigate and make informed and evidenced recommendations about the future of personal adult social care.
Governments have commissioned report after report, and made promise after promise, about the need to implement new policies and funding arrangements to address the growing chasm between the need for care and the resources to fund it.
Each and every promise was broken.
We end up with hospital bed-blocking, chaos in Accident and Emergency departments, 500,000 fewer people receiving support than just 5 years ago, councils being told to implement year-on-year inflation-busting council tax increases to plug some of the gap, and all-purpose councils now spending more than 50% of their budgets on adult social care.
We’ve had nothing but dither and delay.
The latest promise of a government report and action in the Autumn is one that must be met.
But, if any issue needed an all-party review, which engaged citizens in the debate, then adult social care is that issue. We knew that the matter was so serious that people expect all parties to put away sectarian interests, be open and transparent about the challenges and to stop shrouding their deliberations in secrecy.
That is why MPs of all parties on our committees decided to tackle the issue in an open way, putting aside party interests, inviting evidence and contributions from all interested parties and the public at large, and hold public evidence and scrutiny sessions. We even established a Citizens’ Assembly to consider the issues and report to us
If anyone ever wanted an example of everyone working together in the public interest, this report is it.
And, that’s why we have no reservation in asking the government, opposition parties and the public to take seriously what we are saying and what we are recommending.
This is about how we support and care for our grand-parents, our parents, brothers, sisters and cousins and, eventually, about how each and every one of us is cared for.
Doing nothing is not an option.
Every alternative we have considered has advantages and disadvantages.
We were very conscious about the need to be fair between individuals and between generations.
We believe that the six principles for funding social care have captured the correct balance between competing interests:
* Providing high quality care
* Considering working age adults as well as older people
* Ensuring fairness on the ‘who and how’ we pay for social care, including between the generations
* Aspiring over time towards universal access to personal care free at the point of delivery
* Risk pooling - protecting people from catastrophic costs, and protecting a greater portion of their savings and assets
* ‘Earmarking’ of contributions to maintain public support.
You can’t pick and choose the bits you like and reject the rest.
This is a complete package of recommendations which addresses both today’s acute problems and the challenges for many years to come.
I want you to read our report and to tell me what you think.
You can find the report, including an executive summary, at