Care crisis is a national one

Date: Monday 30th July 2018

Sir, I read with astonishment (Herald, 21st July) that Joan Raine, the Conservative councillor who is Eden’s “older people’s champion”, is protesting that there is diminishing provision of care homes in Eden and that Cumbria County Council is not building sufficient new provision.

A survey which I conducted with the local Green Party in Carleton and among Green Party members showed how much of a concern this is for many residents.

Mrs Raine has failed, of course, to mention that all councils, not just Cumbria, are facing huge funding crises in the care sector as a result of the slashing of council funding across the country and the associated crisis in the NHS.

An increasing number of care homes have gone out of business as a result of the cuts which Mrs Raine has supported and it is not an answer to rebuild those homes. And now Cumbria is facing more cuts of around £33 million in the next three years.

Gross spending in England on adult social care is at a lower level than in 2009-10 because of those cuts, but the care home population is projected to grow by at least 14 per cent by 2025. Despite this, local authorities are now having to push through social care cuts of £700 million in 2018-19, nearly five per cent of the total budget.

The Conservative Government, in power since 2010, has also been completely unable to implement the restructuring and refunding of the care sector to meet this unfolding calamity.

It staggers from crisis report to crisis report, offering token amounts of extra funding which it knows cannot address the level of the crisis.

There may be some tinkering at the edges that Cumbria County Council might conceivably be able to introduce in Eden or elsewhere but this will be … tinkering. This is a national crisis.

Still, it’s good to know that vanity projects like HS2 (original cost £32 billion, now estimated £56 billion) are at no risk at all. Yours etc,

DOUG LAWSON (Penrith town councillor, Carleton ward) and 11 Green Party members

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