Sunday, 16 August 2015

Only 100 days in but the Conservatives' broken promise on the care cap will hurt people till 2020

With the Labour leadership ballots going out now it’s worth reminding ourselves of the real thing we are fighting.  Only just having had 100 days this Conservative government seems determined to break its pledges in areas from housing to health. 

Focusing on just one delaying the cap in care costs until 2020 is particularly unfair. 
Some people don’t realise adult social care is means tested until they or their loved ones need it for themselves.  How much care you will need is more or less down to luck – bluntly how much of your life you become ill and frail for. 

We all know or have heard of 90 year olds who live completely independently and live fit and relatively healthy lives yet other people may start to suffer from age related illnesses at a much younger age – and no one really knows what will happen to them. 

Because of this it feels very unfair that some people have to spend many tens of thousands of pounds on their care into old age, and it is a real worry for many people I talk to.  This isn’t just about people who are frail now (although it’s estimated that about 23,000 people would have benefited in 2016-17 alone): several older people I know who are fit and well have expressed their concern about the costs if they were to become ill and it is a quiet fear for many families as their loved ones become older. 
The care cap is a widely supported move to reduce that worry so that the cost of this care is limited.  The Conservatives have now decided to not only delay this from next April to 2020 but have also postponed an increase in the savings which people have to have before they start to contribute to their residential care to 2020.

Local authorities like Reading had already done a huge amount of work to plan how to implement this.  Many councillors had concerns about the impact this would have on councils’ finances and ability to implement what was going to be a complicated system I think it’s fair to say this concern was more about the chronic lack of planning about the system as a whole by this government.  Overall councillors, like most people I know, were positive about the benefits it would bring to residents.

As a country we need to start thinking far more seriously about how we help more and more people to continue to live fulfilling lives as they age.  Part of that should be to ensure that there is some certainty about how people will be able to afford the care they need if they need support. 
Instead this government has already started to break it’s promises to older people – both the frail elderly and older people looking ahead to their future needs.  It is fundamentally letting people down by prevaricating and delaying implementation of a fundamental reform.

The Conservative party was the major choice of pensioners at the election and yet they are breaking promises to the very people who enabled them to form a government.
In just 100 days it has become apparent that the Conservatives alone in government over the next 5 years will be even more damaging than the last 5 years.

Over the coming weeks Labour needs to put itself in the best possible position to win the next general election. 

In the meantime many older people and their families will continue to worry about the costs they may incur through no fault of their own.