Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/722/14687
The class divide in elderly care
Tory communities minister, Eric Pickles, has called for an "end to the blame game", announcing his new tough approach towards problem families: apparently, its time for people to stop blaming others and accept responsibility for any difficulties they face.
However, the Con-Dems are not averse to playing this game themselves. They claimed the UK's ageing population was responsible for their Health and Social Care reforms. We are simply all 'living too long'.
Lib Dem Paul Burstow, minister for care, is also keen to blame others for care shortfalls - he accuses local councils, who unanimously cry: 'not our fault, we have no alternative.'
This year there will be a further £1 billion cut from councils' adult social services budgets. As a result, most care homes are considering increasing fees to paying residents to subsidise council beds. With less cash to pay for places, 60% of providers are thinking about reducing the proportion of beds available for council-funded residents.
The number of older people in England receiving council-funded care has fallen by 11% in the last two years, despite an ageing population. An estimated 800,000 older people are being left without basic care - lonely, isolated and at risk. Many others lose their homes and savings due to soaring care bills.
Every year, thousands of people are forced to give up work to care for older or disabled relatives. Even if money can be scraped together, you'd think twice before committing a loved one to the care of a private provider. Privatisation has been disastrous and the examples of systemic neglect and abuse are too numerous to list.
Nine out of ten care providers claim government cuts force them into favouring wealthy pensioners. With health among the most affluent pensioners better than ever, their numbers account for an increasing number of people buying places in residential care. Meanwhile the poorest face savage cuts to council-funded beds and a lottery for decent, affordable care.
The system fails those in need of care and countless family carers, who are often pushed to breaking point for a state allowance that leaves many impoverished. These people then become the next generation of elderly poor.
According to the rules of the blame game they should have 'made proper provision for the future'. Care provision is a lottery in which luck plays only a small part - money and class determine everything.
In The Socialist 13 June 2012:
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