Friday, 26 May 2017

The dementia tax raises questions about Conservative fitness for government

I was originally going to publish this on Tuesday but due to the awful terrorist attack in Manchester I delayed as all candidates have been avoiding campaigning.  However I believe this issue is so vital I wanted to publish is now that campaigning has restarted.

When the dementia tax was first launched my immediate reaction was disbelief.  It seemed that whoever was in charge of the national Conservative policy on social care didn't understand the crisis at all let alone have a solution. 

It now appears that this person is Theresa May, who is still hastily revising her own policy.
In some ways this is understandable as it is just such a terrible policy.   We need strong leadership in these times, but a truly strong leader listens and involves people in working together on tackling the big issues.

There is a good reason the funding part of it has been dubbed the dementia tax - the first problem is one of utter unfairness:  it creates massive differences in outcome depending on which disease of old age you get, or indeed if you gain a disability before or after you have acquired assets.  

However, it will also create a further black hole in council finances due to increases in deferred payments and it reduce the incentive people have to remain in their own homes when they gain a disease like Alzheimer's - which we all know is better for people at least in the early stages of dementia.

Even more seriously this back of the envelope approach breaches years of work on a cross party basis to find a grown up solution to this complex issue - one we know our society will need to tackle and one that doesn't have a simple solution.  Organisations like the Local Government Association, the Kings Fund and indeed parts of the civil service are looking at this issue carefully and thoughtfully, so it's appalling to have this ridden roughshod over by the government.

Everyone from the Economics Editor of the Financial Times, to Andrew Dilnot, author of the influential Dilnot report, to the Labour party has condemned the Conservative policy as unworkable, costly and unfair.
It is therefore no surprise therefore that the Conservatives are hastily shuffling round u-turning on a manifesto commitment before the election has even happened.

What is a surprise is that it even made into the manifesto in the first place.  It is yet another example of a Conservative party that is not only out of touch but out of control.  

If we can't trust them on something as important as treating our elderly and disabled citizens with respect, what can we trust them on?

If they are not competent enough to understand the consequences of their own policies are they really competent enough to run the country?