Nature truly abhors old age and it seems we abhor paying for it. I know that, like me, many I follow on Twitter have an elderly relative requiring care as they come to the late twilight of life. It’s a shock to the system when it happens to you and as to the costs it makes your nose bleed. My family is currently in that sad process of liquidating my mother’s assets and wondering what will become of her home. As I understand matters she can keep 23k and then a charging order is made on the family home. I know full well that she would be horrified to know that she’ll have little money to leave her grand children but needs must?
Chris Giles over at the FT has some ideas and anything he writes is worth reading (no£).
“The UK has never properly addressed the question of who pays. Where health needs are thought to require treatment by the National Health Service, taxpayers foot the bill. But social care has always been financed largely privately by those with income or assets sufficient to pay. This distinction is unsatisfactory and messy in practice“.
The first sentence is spot on, we have the usual UK jumble of incoherence when it comes to state and private funding. I can find reasons for and reasons against any argument put forward and the trouble is they’re both right. On the one hand it’s easy to say that “those who can pay should pay”. I agree, what reasonable person wouldn’t? On the other hand you could say “why should those who can’t afford it get the same care for free”? I agree what reasonable person wouldn’t? We have a contradiction. The second rule of neo-Liberalism is you don’t get what you can’t pay for.
The distinction between what qualifies as NHS care and what social care is should be fairly easy. Hospital and GP work is NHS, all else is social care if received at home or in a care home. I know that is a crass over-simplification but I’ll stick with it for now, in the hope I’ll be corrected later. So we know general taxation pays for the NHS which leads us straight back to the vexed question of who should pay for what and what should be free? I am naive enough to believe that nobody believes in leaving people to die in a ditch or sit in their own filth for days on end. That’s only a guess but I hope I’m right.
I am now going to indulge in some cynicism and sentimental meanderings which were probably never true literally but in essence. There is a shedload of wealth out there tied up in property. That’s quite a prize on offer for those fast enough to take it. As I mentioned above when it comes to care for my mother no price is too high because that’s how normal people feel. Desperate customers are easy pickings for the bankers and their ilk. Cynicism over sentiment to follow after politics.
And what a bloody mess that is, it seems we are effectively a one party state for the time being. I know things turn and change but the immediate problem is our current rulers are ineffable stupid. From the car crash that is Brexit to the potential break up of the United Kingdom I see no rhyme or reason anywhere just outright wilful ignorance and dishonesty. I’ll give you two examples. 1. The NHS is not being privatised. BS on stilts, large parts of it already are in private hands and this will continue little by little, bit by bit. One day we’ll wake up and it will be gone. 2. Many u-turns have been forced by Labour on the Tories. Yeah right. The only Tory opposition is themselves and the Lords, with the occasional sprinkling of SNP. The NICS fiasco had nothing to do with Labour as just one example.
Enough it’s time to be sentimental and, I hope, practical as well. Whatever happened to the post war social contract? The time we all agreed that we should look after and build things even in the worst of circumstances. War debt being high didn’t stop us, raising taxes necessary to support (not fund) was no problem and we built houses, remember them? We could do this because we still believed in nation building, indeed we were rebuilding a nation. What was it that made us capable then but incapable now? The afterglow of victory in war? The debt we felt we owed to the ordinary people who fought for our freedom? The unifying message was a country fit for heroes. How did that message become It was the migrants and benefit claimants wot dun it?
NHS: Can’t afford it. Social Care; Can’t afford it. Pensions: Can’t afford them. It’s seems it’s not just nature that abhors old age it would seem. We can’t afford it is a self serving message perpetuated by a self serving few. Social Care is not an insurmountable problem given the political will. The job of the state should be to provide the minimum acceptable standards provided by people on a living wage. The money spent recruiting these people goes straight back to the state via taxes, taxes on spending and money velocity. The private sector is free to compete for those with extra money and the option not to spend the money is still there for those who wish to leave an inheritance.
There is an additional incentive to pursue this. The UK has never hypothecated taxes to the source of income. NICS don’t fund the NHS, road tax doesn’t fund roads and that’s because taxes don’t fund spending. There is a whole new industry possible, a combination of state and private that can easily and sustainably fund social care so why don’t we do it? The problem lies in the word “state”. All solutions must involve corporations and profits and be debt funded. It doesn’t have to be this way if a sensible government says…
Seize the day.