Michelle Mitchell: Whoever wins election, care must come first

Unless care is protected from cuts, a funding black hole of £1.75bn will open up

Share
Related Topics

The White Paper was a brave attempt to put a serious issue on to the public agenda. It deserves a considered response from the other political parties, not a knee-jerk, point-scoring reaction.

Almost everyone can agree with the principle of a new national system that guarantees more flexible support, earlier help, and an end to the postcode lottery. And as long as it is fair and affordable, offering free support to everyone who needs it, whatever their means, is a really welcome ambition.

If the plans are implemented, by the end of the next parliament fewer people who need care will go without, more will be able to stay in their own home and those with the highest needs in residential care and the community will have their care paid for.

There remain unanswered questions about how much it's all going to cost and how we're going to pay for it. In particular the Government must say where all the money needed to fund the first wave of reforms up to 2015 will come from.

Over the next five years it will cost billions more to fund growing demand in care services, end the postcode lottery and implement the new national entitlements for free care for those with the highest needs.

In the meantime, there are some really big and important political milestones to get over. The first hurdle is the looming general election. All the parties are preparing the battlegrounds on which they want to fight for votes. As part of that, we look forward to all of them setting out positive pitches on the future of care. But they also need to avoid boxing themselves in by rejecting sound proposals, just to draw political dividing lines.

The next hurdle is the fiscal crisis. Whoever is in government after May, there will be an urgent spending review, possibly as early as the summer. Spending cuts are almost inevitable and local authorities, who run social care, seem to be very vulnerable.

Our research shows that unless older people's care is protected from these government-wide spending cuts, a funding black hole of £1.75bn will open up within the next two years. 500,000 fewer older people would have access to services, and the numbers of people receiving help at home would halve. Cuts on that scale would totally undermine the vision set out in the White Paper. All parties must promise that care will be protected.

For all these potential pitfalls, yesterday's announcement was a landmark moment. The White Paper's incremental reforms mark the start of a journey, and the end point is still not entirely clear. But it is a journey we must begin this year, for the sake of millions of vulnerable people, whoever wins the election.

Michelle Mitchell is charity director of Age Concern and Help the Aged

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Personal Tax Senior

£28000 - £37000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Recruitment Genius: Customer and Markets Development Executive

£22000 - £29000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company's mission is to ma...

Recruitment Genius: Guest Services Assistant

£13832 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This 5 star leisure destination on the w...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Account Manager

£20000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Account Manager is requ...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Seven per cent of young men have recently stopped using deodorant  

‘Sweaty-gate’ leaves a bad smell for PRs and journalists

Danny Rogers
Alison Parker and Adam Ward: best remembered before tragedy  

The only way is ethics: Graphic portraits of TV killings would upset many, not just our readers in the US

Will Gore
Orthorexia nervosa: How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition

Orthorexia nervosa

How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition
Lady Chatterley is not obscene, says TV director

Lady Chatterley’s Lover

Director Jed Mercurio on why DH Lawrence's novel 'is not an obscene story'
Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests

Set a pest to catch a pest

Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests
Mexico: A culture that celebrates darkness as an essential part of life

The dark side of Mexico

A culture that celebrates darkness as an essential part of life
Being sexually assaulted was not your fault, Chrissie Hynde. Don't tell other victims it was theirs

Being sexually assaulted was not your fault, Chrissie Hynde

Please don't tell other victims it was theirs
A nap a day could save your life - and here's why

A nap a day could save your life

A midday nap is 'associated with reduced blood pressure'
If men are so obsessed by sex, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?

If men are so obsessed by sex...

...why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?
The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3

Jon Thoday and Richard Allen-Turner

The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3
The bathing machine is back... but with a difference

Rolling in the deep

The bathing machine is back but with a difference
Part-privatised tests, new age limits, driverless cars: Tories plot motoring revolution

Conservatives plot a motoring revolution

Draft report reveals biggest reform to regulations since driving test introduced in 1935
The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border