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Social care – an appeal

During a recent event on social care, Barbara Keeley MP, Chair, All Party Parliamentary Group for Social Care, addressed an audience saying that the issue of social care, particularly funding, was a known issue among MPs, but nothing is being heard about it.

Further, they know it is an issue among the public themselves, particularly those who are often left caring for elderly relatives and juggling employment as well. Or even those who have to leave employment altogether.

Though, even in the age of internet campaigns, which really do work, not much is coming through on this subject. This is perhaps reflected in the weak plans by government to draw up a mere draft bill, which is rumoured not to even touch upon the glaring issue of funding – something which even with a cost cap, through the Dilnot review, will still see people spending a lot of money on the care they or their relatives receive.

There is another implication, that so often gets forgotten. That of the cost implications to unpaid, full-time carers. Dr Linda Pickard of the LSE put it in the following way:

Providing unpaid care to older people and people with disabilities is costly. Many unpaid carers leave employment and experience costs to themselves in terms of foregone earnings. However, initial findings from a new study at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) now show that carers leaving employment also involves high costs to the public purse. The study shows that the public expenditure costs of carers leaving employment in England amount to around £1.3 billion a year.

The implication thus being that if more money was put into social care, this would provide a counterbalance to the amount that is lost in tax receipts through people leaving their jobs to take up full-time care; not to mention the amount of money it costs employers to re-train other staff members on the back of this.

But sadly this is just another example of where short-term spending worries are given primacy over long-term savings and efficiency – or the spend to save model as it’s popularly known.

My ambitious appeal to readers is in tweeting this post to MPs, councillors and interested charities, social enterprises, private companies etc, to try and feed this issue back onto the desks of our elected senior representatives. Also it is an appeal to the Avaaz / 38 degrees-type campaigns that can engage the already-concerned public and raise this extremely important issue back to the top of the agenda again – before the problem only gets worse for social care.

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Categories: Local Democracy
  1. May 24, 2012 at 7:29 pm

    This is a not entirely off-topic response. I’ve been revising AS-levels with my son this week – Geography last night, and health issues in particular. It’s covered some of the above, with some very sad stats on the divide between north and south, low income and high, life expectancies and quality of care etc. But the divide is not only north and south – nor even digital: far more importantly, it is one of generations. In a capitalist society where short-term personal outcomes must always be optimised, we only seem to really care about the elderly and others with support needs when we ourselves are too old and needy to do anything about it. See that “short-term outcome” business for what it really is – the self-centred vision of a society on the sorry make – and we could start to think about growing old and/or needy, as well as its implications, in time to engineer something sensible.

    Problem is that we see that “short-term outcome” stuff as a synonym for efficient maximisation; few people care to question it whilst their lifestyles are all the materially better for it.

    What to do about it then? Bit more difficult. An Avaaz-type awareness the answer? I’m getting flooded with emails from a million good causes that I really can’t keep track of which petitions I have signed or not. Not sure the digital tools are what we need here – but then I’m really getting fed up the parliamentary wheels that grind so monolithically too. I think the solution is a democracy which allows ordinary people to express their feelings and instincts intelligently. But in a society which is more and more complex, only experts seem to have the right to speak. Maybe the vast majority of us end up disengaged – and therefore unattended – because democracy isn’t up to the job of dealing with such complexities.

    Maybe our social care is in danger of collapsing, too, because our society as it stands is really only fit to support those who don’t need it.

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