SOCIAL CARE REFORM
The Somerset Guardian, 22nd May 2019
Every M.P. will be aware of the deep unfairness inherent in this country’s health and social care provision. Those with one type of illness are well looked after by the NHS. Medical care is free at the point of use and usually of a high standard. However, constituents with more long-term conditions are not so fortunate.
An elderly person who suffers from dementia and who requires long-term complex social care may have to pay tens of thousands of pounds from their own capital and retirement income. The fruits of a lifetime of hard work and careful saving can be wiped out ensuring that there is no reward for prudence.
The effects can be even more severe when a younger person requires long-term care and the welfare state turns its back on them. Politically, it is by no means easy to fix this problem. We saw this in the 2017 General Election when the disastrous ‘dementia tax’ was launched. It protected some assets, admittedly, but it highlighted the huge sums people might be forced to spend on social care.
The Conservative Party has a better record in social care than recent history might suggest. It was the Tories who introduced the Attendance Allowance in 1971, which is not means-tested and helps well over a million people today. Yet there is much more to do. It is time for Conservative leaders to think differently. In another age, the original One Nation Tory, Benjamin Disraeli, sought to improve the “condition of the people”; in our own time, we should recognise that social care reform is one of the great challenges where the people need to see new – and even radical - political leadership.