photo Chris Marchant (Creative Commons)

photo Chris Marchant (Creative Commons)   (Click to enlarge: opens in new window)

James Ivens

Councils may start seizing the homes of elderly people after death to pay care bills.

‘Deferred payment agreements’ have councils pay extortionate care bills in exchange for ownership of the service user’s house. The number of such arrangements is likely to rise because the Tories have reneged on a pledge to cap care costs.

More council-owned homes would be good, but not on the basis of economic blackmail of vulnerable people. And will they become council homes? More likely they will be sold to profiteering developers.

Ministers are also considering letting local authorities charge more council tax to cover ballooning private care bills. This would only punish working class residents for the greed of the care companies.

Councils should instead fight for more funding from central government, and for care to be nationalised under democratic workers’ control and management.

Meanwhile, private care companies try anything to maximise profit. The Socialist spoke to care worker and Socialist Party member Katie Simpson.

“Working in the care sector, you see the impact of private companies’ cost-cutting practices.

“Community carers are given as little as 15-minute time slots to see a patient who may need more support, but local authorities won’t foot the extra cost.

“Some staff are staying overtime without pay, while others use their own money to buy essentials for their service users. Meanwhile carers are often making minimum wage themselves, and are unpaid between calls despite guidelines.

“Yet the managing directors are always very well-paid. Six-figure salaries and five-figure bonuses while many frontline staff who work over the Christmas period might get a shopping voucher as a ‘thank you.’

“It seems obvious to many carers I have worked with over the years that care was never safe in private hands. That profiting from the sick, elderly and disabled is not going to benefit the people in the service.”