Tory Social Care proposals could have devastating consequences for families in Brent

The Conservative Party’s “reckless” manifesto pledge could have devastating consequences for families in Brent. Sir Andrew Dilnot, a leading national expert who provided an independent report to the Government on social care has described the Tory proposals as the biggest stealth tax in history. Despite government previously saying they would consult with the public on the best way forward, this high-cost policy has come out of the blue. While many families from many backgrounds will be affected, South Asian communities, who often live together across generations, could be hit particularly hard, with Tory proposals leaving them at risk of becoming homeless.

At present, social care is means tested and the value of the property that people are living in is not taken into account as part of that calculation. The proposal announced in Theresa May’s Conservative manifesto will include the value of a person’s home. If this damaging policy goes ahead, equity in the family home will be eaten into and after the cared for individual passes away, the home will have to be sold. As too many families know, the costs of caring for someone with dementia can be catastrophic and with people living longer and dementia prevalence rising, more people will need social care for longer.

These proposals have not been properly thought through. They raise more questions, cause more problems and quite simply fail to deliver much needed solutions for the social care crisis. What happens if there is a partner still living in the property when the person receiving social care passes away? Will they have to be thrown out of their own home so the remaining social care bill can be paid? Even if the issue of property and living partners is resolved by delaying the debt payment until they have passed away too, the policies outlined in the manifesto will cause devastation to large sections of the Brent population and South Asian communities in particular.

In Brent and other areas, South Asian communities choose to live in the same family home and it is not uncommon for up to four generations of a family to be living in the same property. The housing crisis has also meant that families are even choosing to build and expand their home and live together rather than enter the housing market. It is ironic that the section of the manifesto that this proposal appears in is under the heading ‘a restored contract between the generations’ as their approach completely ignores the intergenerational dependencies of families who strive to care for each other.

When elderly relatives pass away after receiving social care, their children could find themselves homeless. The Tories say that families will be able to keep £100,000 of equity in the family home. The average price of a property in Brent is £535,803 meaning that their children will have to try and find on average £435,000 to try and keep their family home.

On top of bringing the social care system to the brink of collapse over the last seven years, the current Tory thinking looks to create even more problems rather than solutions to the crisis.

Brent’s graph of doom

The graph below looks quite complicated but is the result of some sophisticated modelling in studying adult social care pressures in Brent. It looks at the impact on Brent Council’s budget because of adult social care pressures.

 

Brent GOD

The headline bars that provide concern are the sky blue trend line and the green trend line. It shows the actual budget gap as we move towards 2020.

Brent is impacted more than other boroughs through central Government funding cuts because 80% of our funding is sourced from them. The sky blue line projects the spending gap if the next Comprehensive Spending Review is as harsh to Brent Council as the one supported and voted for by Sarah Teather in 2010.

The green line predicates the budget gap without central government cuts and just  looking at demand and other cost changes.

The sky blue trend line shows that rising demand for care along with budgets cuts could create a gap of £45 million in Brent Council’s budget by 2020.

Without fundamental change in the way social care services are delivered and how Councils are funded, local authorities will be finding themselves calling on Government to remove statutory obligations from them so that we can stop providing certain services altogether. The Local Government Association says that funding for services such as libraries and leisure centres will fall by 90% as a result of rising adult social care and other compulsory costs, meaning many could disappear by the end of the decade.

Yesterday I blogged about Labour’s landmark process for health and social care reform introducing Whole Person Care  – LINK

Labour is working on practical solutions to the care ticking bomb crisis.

 

 

 

Whole-Person Care

Today, Shadow Secretary for Health Andy Burnham gave hope to all in the country with his and Labour’s vision for the future of health and social care provision.

I was delighted to attend the launch of his Whole-Person Care policy review which outlined the parameters in which Labour was seeking to take health and social care in the future.

In 1997, the scandal was waiting lists. People in this country were dying while they waited for operations and because of that, meeting targets became a priority area of focus for the Labour administration. But the challenges that faced the sector at the end of the last decade and is becoming ever more apparent now requires a shift in priorities.

Andy Burnham argued for wholesale integration of Health and Social Care. The Conservative and Liberal Democrat’s Health and Social Care Act 2012 was condemned and he pledged to repeal it if Labour came back into power. In fact, the whole discussion abut the Act itself ended up being all about Health and had a ‘we’ll deal with the social care bit later’ approach.

What he did concede was that the reform that Labour brings in will work with the bodies that he inherits in 2015 if Labour win the next general election. The NHS had already undergone straining top down organisational change under this Tory Liberal Government and it would not be right to make them do it again. Instead, he indicated that there would be a refocus on what these bodies do. Health and Wellbeing Boards should be the main commissioning body and Clinical Commissioning Groups would be advisory. These new Boards were best placed to shape both health and social care provision through one budget.

English: NHS logo

It would also mean commissioning of adaptations in the same process in recognition that this saves money in the long run and delays the need for expensive care provision because of risk aversion.

At the moment, we are faced with a situation where people have physical needs, mental health needs and social needs, but there is a lack of coordination between the services. One person, three care services. The gaps between them are frankly dangerous.

Council services are being cut to the bare bone and our projections show that in Brent, the budget shortfall because of cuts and rising demand to our social care services by 2020 will be £45 million. The Local Government Association has said that if this area is not reformed then money spent on more ‘popular’ services will reduce around the country by 90%.

A full transcript of Andy Burnham’s speech can be found here – LINK

The Whole-Person Care approach was well received by the audience which stretched well beyond the party faithful and starts a landmark process to truly reform health and social care services for the better.

When words can be twisted and manipulated to infer something that isn’t the case

I have noticed that an attack piece has been put out by the Willesden and Brent Times about Brent Council not campaigning against the proposal to close A&E permanently at Central Middlesex Hospital. This is the quote that was supplied to the local paper when they contacted the Group on the issue:

“Brent Labour has given its full support to the campaign against the Coalition’s plans. Labour Councillors condemned the plans in the Council Chamber and have been working with the community to raise awareness of the issue, including writing to Andrew Lansley, raising the issue with residents on the doorstep and we agreed to meet campaigners weeks ago. Both Cllr Butt and myself will address the march against the closures on 15th September. However, it is difficult to use Brent Council resources to back campaign is because unlike in Ealing and Hammersmith and Fulham, there is no cross party support for the campaign. Both the Lib Dems and Conservatives in Brent have refused to criticise the plans put forward by their own Government. We will continue to campaign on this issue as a wider Brent Labour Party.”

This was what the Willesden and Brent Times printed;

Cllr Krupesh Hirani, Brent Council’s lead member for adults and health, claimed it was “difficult” to back the campaign as there is no cross-party support.

He added: “Both the Liberal Democrats and Conservatives in Brent have refused to criticise the plans put forward by their own Government.

“We will continue to campaign on this issue as Brent Labour Party.

The changing of one sentence  (highlighted in bold) and manipulating the term “difficult” used in my sentence by the paper means that it could be read that Labour Councillors are not supporting campaigners. The issue is not whether Brent Labour supports the campaign or not, we do.

The issue is whether we use taxpayer resources, or Labour Party resources. So far, we have opted to use Labour Party resources. This is because it is difficult to justify using Council resources to campaign in cases where there is not cross party agreement.

Otherwise, the Labour Party could just abuse its position as the leading party in Brent and use taxpayer money to campaign on other issues that we believe are damaging the prospects of people in Brent, like for example, the trebling of tuition fees and the Government’s deficit reduction plan.

National Carers Week in Brent

Caregiver joins her striking caregivers
Caregiver joins her striking caregivers (Photo credit: Simon Oosterman)

We’ve organised a series of activities for Carers in Brent to tie in with National Carers Week.

It was great to meet so many carers at Brent Town Hall yesterday where I officially launched Carers Week in Brent.

For details of what we have in store, visit this LINK

You can read the press release from Brent Council here – LINK

Brent Labour to introduce a Carers Hub!

Caregiver joins her striking caregivers
(Photo credit: Simon Oosterman)

In my first Executive meeting on 21st May 2012, I will be the responsible Member for introducing the item on inviting tenders for introducing a Carers Hub to Brent. The Carers Services Hub will provide a single point of contact for carers through the coordination and delivery of a wide range of services.

Through consultation with carers, we were told that people were frustrated with the system and the lack of a clear pathway to access help and support. Through this Carers Hub, we aim to create a single point of contact for unpaid carers and better coordinate services to them. It will also serve as a reference point for voluntary sector organisations providing support services to people in Brent.

The Carers Hub Model is endorsed by the Princess Royal Trust for Carers as a best practise model. We will be pooling our Budget with NHS Brent in order to deliver this.

Labour calls on Sarah Teather and the Brent Liberal Democrats to Drop The Bill

The Brent Labour Party was joined by Shadow Minister for Public Health Diane Abbott MP on Thursday 23rd February in a campaign to Save The NHS. Hundreds signed the Labour petition to save the NHS in Willesden Green. Doctors, nurses and patients all around the country have called for the Government’s flagship Health and Social Care Bill to be dropped.

The Bill would allow provision for 49% of public facilities to be used by the private sector and would allow services to be delivered by “any willing provider”. This means that hospitals will be able use around half their hospital beds and theatre time for private patients and could lead to waiting lists going up as NHS beds are being used by private patients.

Instead of wasting billions on this damaging reorganisation, Labour would save this money and protect the jobs of 6,000 nurses. Diane Abbott come to Brent to personally hand in a letter to Government Minister Sarah Teather MP and called on her to use her influence to do the right thing for patients in this country and Drop the Bill.

There is overwhelming anger and opposition in Brent to the Tory Liberal Government’s top down reorganisation of the NHS. This is exactly what David Cameron said he wouldn’t do before he became Prime Minister. People don’t want a health service that puts profit before patients. They want to know that in their time of need, the NHS will be there for them.

 

New NH$

A bit exaggerated but there are elements of truth in this. Our friends at Unison have produced a video about the Conservative and Lib Dem proposed changes to the NHS.

Brent GP List Validation Excercise

NHS Brent were present at a Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee meeting which I attended at Brent Town Hall last week. Many may have read in the local press about a recent process that NHS Brent undertook to validate the names which they deemed to be ‘inactive’ and take out names that did not respond to letters from them.

Brent has a fluid population and it may well be that the NHS is spending money on patients that no longer live in Brent. This is something the NHS cannot afford given the cuts that it is being forced to make by the Coalition Government.

I asked a question to NHS Brent on the practicals… ie. if I felt ill tomorrow and wanted to see my GP and found out my name had been struck off their list, what would happen. I was reassured that it will be extremely simple for me to simply get treated and re-register with my GP.

At the beginning of this meeting, the context of these changes was introduced where it was mentioned that the NHS in Brent has to carry out its duties with fewer resources. So secondly, I asked whether this context had changed given the Prime Minister’s announcement last week following the Government’s ‘listening excercise’, to which the answer was simply NO.