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?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

LSA

£15000 - £16000 per annum: Randstad Education Group: To work as part of the Le...

KS1 Float Teacher needed in the Vale

£100 - £110 per day + Travel scheme plus free professional trainnig: Randstad ...

Science Teacher

£100 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Cardiff: Are you a qualified secondary...

KS2 Float Teacher required in Caerphilly

£100 - £110 per day + Travel Scheme plus free professional training: Randstad ...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Daily catch-up: Gordon Brown’s finest hour, a letter from Quebec and the problem of anti-politics

John Rentoul
 

i Editor's Letter: The campaigning is over. So now we wait...

Oliver Duff Oliver Duff
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week