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By Debbie le Quesne

Date brought forward for care reforms

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It’s rare I get chance to read the weekend papers, but I’m grateful for the enlightenment that the government is to introduce reforms to the funding of long-term care for elderly people a year early.

Our friend George Osborne had made the announcement, no doubt in an attempt to show that the government is responding to the challenge of an ageing population.

The chancellor announced that a modified version of proposals laid out in Dilnot report would be brought forward by a year to . . . wait for it, 2016.

The government will also cap the maximum amount anyone will have to pay at £72,000, rather than the £75,000 proposed by the health secretary, Jeremy Hunt, in a statement to parliament last month.

Economist Andrew Dilnot had proposed a cap of around £35,000.

According to the Press, the chancellor made the announcement on BBC 1 Andrew Marr Show in a preamble to the budget on Wednesday. No doubt that will bring with it fresh gloom.

Osborne said: “We have to go on in this budget confronting the very difficult economic problems Britain has – difficult problems in a difficult world situation . . .

“We have got to change a lot of things. It is painstaking work. It is difficult work. There is no easy answer to Britain’s problems. There is no miracle cure because of course if there was a miracle cure it would have been deployed. It is just a lot of hard work dealing with Britain’s debts, helping businesses create jobs and helping families who work hard and want to get on.”

All deep joy stuff. But it gets worse with forecasts on growth likely to be downgraded by the Office for Budget Responsibility.

Mr Osborne added: “ . . .we will bring the Dilnot cap forward to 2016 and indeed reduce the cap to £72,000. In other words you will have to pay £72,000 of care costs but after that, for the rest of your life, those care costs will be covered by the state.”

I cannot understand why there is so much inertia in responding to a need to radically restructure care services and its funding. . . 2016! Why so long to wait?

What is deeply worrying is the ‘set course’ response we hear over and over again from the coalition. No matter how bad it’s getting in the care sector, no matter how budgets are tightened, no matter what the personal cost, we don’t seem to be able to adapt to emerging need, or deepening crisis.

I am not an economist, but some things leave me puzzled. I read recently in The Independent newspaper that the HS2 rail project to link the north and south with a super fast service is about to break out of its £33bn budget because of rising costs. So far the government has spent £250m on the plan.

No wonder a coalition of campaigners and MPs has questioned the financing in a time of supposed austerity.

Can someone explain why this project must go ahead now when we can no longer afford to care for the elderly, chronically sick, disabled and mentally ill?

The West Midlands Care Association does not have a political mandate, but it does have a responsibility to try to uphold standards of care in whatever way it can. And if that means adding pressure to this government, or indeed standing against it, the association will do so.

As the economy founders, businesses sink and care budgets are slashed, we are as ever, left to pick up the pieces at the sharp end. Just once, it would be lovely to start the week with some better news about the issues of caring.

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Written by debbielq

March 18, 2013 at 10:16 am

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