Now we know where John Redwood MP stands or rather sits, when it comes to the Dilnot proposals and the future funding of care. As long as it doesn’t need to hit his pocket, he doesn’t really care.
In his paper Care for the Elderly – The limitations of the Dilnot Proposals – Redwood tries to make the point six times over that Dilnot is all about protecting inheritances. He uses the word ‘inheritance’ twice as often as it featured in the Dilnot Report, where the word was only used in connection with people who themselves had inherited.
One example given by Dilnot of how his proposals might work: Emma was born with a learning disability. Her mother died when she was 35; she then had to move into supported housing. She inherited £150,000 from the sale of her mother’s house. She died aged 52.
Under the current system, Emma received all her care and support free of charge up until the point at which she inherited £150,000. From then on, Emma had to use these assets, along with disability benefits, to pay for her supported housing and care and support costs. By her mid-40s, she had spent down her assets to £14,250, the means-tested threshold, and received support from the state, without charge.
Under our reforms, as Emma would have turned 18 with an eligible care need, she would be deemed to have met the cap and would receive all her care without charge for the whole of her lifetime. She would have contributed to her general living costs partly herself and partly through her disability benefits. She would spend half of the £150,000 on her general living costs, but could use the rest of the money throughout the rest of her life to improve her overall well-being.
This Guardian article – Redwood attack on cap for care bills of elderly dismissed – tells us more:
‘Asked whether this “unfairness” could be alleviated by taxing the rich a little more, the former Tory minister replied: “Some people might want that. I do not.”’
I am sick and tired of hearing and reading about ‘protecting inheritances’, especially whenever that talk comes from MPs many of whom have inherited a goodly fortune and who will never need to call out for care and support. Also, it comes from social workers who should know better. It destroys any ability to concentrate on the real issues of whether or not we, as a relatively prosperous nation, should provide a decent standard of care for those who have no choice but to rely on that which is handed down in the name of residential care. We can find the money to pay for many things, as a proud and rich nation, wihout harping on about the inheritances of others. What will be the total cost of the 2012 Olympic Games? The tax-payer is never asked whether s/he would like to pay a bit more tax – we have no choice in the decisions of John Redwood. He has the power to decide what happens to us – just by turning up at Parliament and voting.
When I first came into contact with a social worker, she never even had the guts to tell me that she had never worked before in the locality so knew nothing about it; that she had never worked with the mental health care of older people team; that she knew nothing of the service provision in the local authority area; that she knew nothing of dementia and all that dementia brings; that she was a locum. Her first question was all about money – how much money my relative had in the bank. If only she had been as open with me about her ‘status’ as I was about the status of my relative, I could have helped her. Helped the social worker, I mean. I could have helped the social worker to help my relative. But all my requests to her were met with the phrase “I’ll see what I can do” – and that usually turned out to be absolutely nothing. Meanwhile, she caused chaos in the life of a vulnerable person with dementia.
The next social worker I came into contact with was not allowed to speak until she had been CRB-checked, so sat silently at the first meeting. When she gained her voice, it didn’t take me long to work out that she came from another country. She was seconded to the same mental health care of older people team; she had never worked with vulnerable older people; her only experience was in the field of childcare and also adoption. She didn’t want to blot her copybook, so she turned out to be the proverbial chocolate teapot.
A few months later, when I asked her what her next ‘career move’ was, she replied “To go back to Australia as quickly as possible”. She had been using the system in her own best interests and for a brief while to enhance her CV. She was gone soon, back where she came from. Meanwhile, she too caused chaos in the life of a vulnerable person with dementia .
So when I hear about ‘inheritances’ from rich MPs and others who will never need to call on the care system for knowledge and support, or from social workers who know the system inside out but don’t always share that knowledge, I feel the need to ask those who care about these things to consider the ‘inheritance’ they leave behind.
The inheritance they leave behind can be devastating. What a proud legacy.
Meanwhile, our coalition government (if they’re still around in 2017) will feather the nests of the care providers. At the expense of those who’ve cared more than they ever did.