The latest White Paper on social care is more a political sticking plaster than a solution ("Care is not a luxury", 8 July). The plan to enable pensioners to borrow money to pay for their care may result in many homes remaining empty while the owner is in a care home. This could lead vacated properties to fall into disrepair. But it is more probable the property would be sold, rather than left empty, suggesting that the proceeds would be used to fund care.
Local authorities would have to wait longer for loans to the elderly to be repaid. The shortfall in revenue would have to be funded from somewhere, so perhaps we should prepare for further budget cuts and increases in council tax.
What will happen if the loan for residential care exceeds the value of the house, and what rate of interest will be levied? It would be far easier for people to understand the scheme if they could be given an idea of final cost, with a cap on loans.
The White Paper also does not encourage people to get domiciliary care while still at home, to help alleviate the pressure on care homes. The system of free care in Scotland encourages domiciliary care and this is something the Government should be focusing on, and indeed investing in, as life expectancy continues to rise.
Your dance critic, Jenny Gilbert, says that I have "stubbornly refused to offer contracts to dark-skinned women as they come up through the Royal Ballet School" (The Critics, 8 July). During my 10-year directorship of the Royal Ballet, three female students from BME [black and minority ethnic] backgrounds have graduated from the school, only one of which I judged deserving of a contract with the company. She is currently a member.
The Royal Ballet is committed to inclusion and diversity in relation to ballet and the development of dancers. For over 20 years, our Chance to Dance programme, which offers free training to children in Inner London boroughs, has introduced thousands of young people to dance; many have gone on to full-time training. Every dancer who enters the Royal Ballet does so on merit alone; I do not believe in tokenism or box ticking.
Dame Monica Mason
Director, The Royal Ballet
Nothing would have coped with the recent level of rain over so short a period except a fundamental change in the ground cover of the lower slopes of the hillsides ("After the deluge... come more floods", 8 July). The problem is simply that deforestation of the country means the runoff is immediate and beyond almost any system to cope with.
Furthermore, a scuba diver from a local club cleared under a bridge near my home and found there was a build-up of silt and debris nearly three feet deep, caught on supermarket trolleys thrown from the bridge, and I suspect this is the norm.
To use the given name without the person's permission puts them at a disadvantage ("You can call me Madam, Mr Diamond", 8 July). In many countries and cultures a person cannot address another by their given name without being invited so to do. In some, it also depends on seniority, even socially. I'll bet Bob Diamond of Barclays knows this. Personally, I don't like being addressed by my given name by people I have never met before.
Even serious female athletes wear little more than a bikini when competing nowadays, while men still cover the whole of their torsos ("Athletes' fury at Team GB 'farce'...", 8 July). Can someone please explain why it has become necessary for women to perform their tasks half-naked?
Tunbridge Wells, Kent
Eric Sykes's recent death brought to an sad end the 10-year campaign for a knighthood for him. As one who took part in this, I would like to acknowledge the support given by many, including Dame Judi Dench, Sir Michael Caine and Sir Cliff Richard, and thousands whose names are not so well known. Thanks also to The IoS, which always gave a high profile to letters calling for support. God bless you, Eric. We thought a knighthood would have been a small return for all the pleasure you gave us.
Sheffield, South Yorkshire
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