No more delays – Social Care crisis must be finally addressed

woman in purple polo shirt wearing eyeglasses

The Social Care crisis is in the news again, but sadly this by no means a recent development. Social Care has been in crisis for decades, across successive Governments. It’s infuriating that ten years after the Dilnot report, and seven years after laws were passed to support a Dilnot-style capped cost model, we’re still no closer to taking the large steps needed to fix it.

When I stood for election in 2019 I had a number of emails from people raising their concerns about social care. The cost was one aspect, but another was support for those who suffered from dementia. The Alzheimer’s Society “Election Manifesto 2019” indicated people with dementia occupied 70% of places in residential care. That’s a huge number, and the sad fact is with the number of people with dementia set to rise, the pressures on social care will continue to grow as well.

This is supported by the Kings Fund’s “Social Care 360 Report”, which confirms that demand for social care has been increasing but receipt of long-term care is falling because thresholds are not remaining in line with inflation.

But this isn’t just about making sure residential accommodation is available and affordable.

Any solution to address social care must also consider independent living. During the 2019 election, The Green Party promised an additional £4.5 billion a year to local councils to provide free social care to those people over 65 who need support in their own homes. This model has been in place in Scotland since 2001 and has helped millions of people be cared for in their own homes – it’s time to extend this right to free home care to pensioners in England (care in Wales is devolved to the National Assembly for Wales).

As with most things, the answer isn’t just throwing money at the problem. Sure, more funding is an important factor, but we need to look at the wider context, for example, further funding and reforms to mental and physical health services would have a positive impact on social care as well.

We must also look after our carers. Care worker pay was rising by more than inflation but was not keeping pace with other sectors. When staff vacancy numbers are already high, losing more staff will only make this situation worse.

It’s also likely that unpaid carers will continue to play a role, so we must therefore make sure families are supported mentally, physically, and financially. Part of that financial support would have come from a Green New Deal, that offered a Universal Basic Income to all, alleviating some of the financial pressure from carers.

Other than announcements in the last manifesto, Green Party policy is sadly lacking in detail when describing what we’d do to fix the crisis and place on record our support for reforms. I’m sure I won’t be the only Green Party member who has noticed this, and plans may already be afoot to draft motions to Conference to fix this, which I will play close attention to. I’d also be interested to see what Green Party councillors around the UK have been doing on this front.

Locally, in Waltham Forest, I recall in 2016, when Labour and Conservative councillors voted to increase council tax to “Protect social care”, though it was always only a temporary reprieve. Local Labour councillors were keen to put the blame squarely on a Conservative government, ignoring that social care was already a big issue during Labour’s Blair Government, while the Tory councillors told us we should “thank” the Tory Government for their part in forcing this tax rise (caused by the Tories cutting local funding) and trivialised talk of transport and recycling concerns as “wittering.”

Charming.

For more information about the reforms being called for, you can read the following reports:

British Gas must reverse the minimum top-up change

British Gas has increased the minimum top-up from £1 to £5 which is likely to put families at risk.

I grew up with gas and electric pre-pay meters, and well remember scrambling for 50p for the meter when the electricity or gas ran out, and then later when they introduced top up cards, making regular use of emergency credit and undertaking late night trips to top up the card in order to restore electricity.

I know first hand that sometimes all you could do was put just enough on to keep things going until you had a little bit more money to work with.

It’s bad enough that pre-pay meters already hit the poorest, with the cost of energy being higher than monthly billed customers.

But this move to increase the minimum top-up rate will be putting families at risk and should be reversed immediately, especially at a time of year when the need for gas and electricity will be at its highest.

Please sign and share this petition.

https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/british-gas-reverse-the-minimum-top-up-rise-1

Thank you, Green voters of Walthamstow

Thank you to Walthamstow voters who followed a national trend and delivered more Green votes compared to 2017. A 60% increase in votes for the Greens across the country shows the public is ready for immediate climate action, a Green New Deal, and a change to our voting system. If you want to continue to push for those ideas then consider joining, https://join.greenparty.org.uk.

Now more than ever I fear for the future of the UK and the world. We’re not the biggest or richest country, but we can still be a major influence on the global stage. We could have been leaders in environmental solutions and how we treat each other. Instead, we are set to become more inward-looking and more aggressive in our foreign policy, leading to a less safe world. We also seem set to break up the UK. There is no solution to Brexit that won’t jeopardise the relationship between England, Scotland, Wales and N. Ireland.

We are where we are not because the public has rejected transformative progressive politics or because they have embraced a Conservative vision of the UK, whose own vote share barely moved in comparison, but because Labour has failed in its attempt to be all things to all people.

A broad church does not work in a First Past The Post system. The Labour Party needs to recognise that the best way to deliver the change that we want to see is not by trying to force all voters to vote for them, but by recognising that smaller parties help to amplify voices that would otherwise be lost in a bigger party. This can only happen under a Proportional Representation system. Sadly the chance of this happening now seems further away, but we cannot, and must not give up.

Politics is going to be a mess for some time to come, with lots of in-fighting as politicians – who are meant to be on the same side – split into factions and vie for the power to shape the policies of their own party, while the Conservatives get on with their damaging manifesto.

While they do this, the rest of us must re-double our efforts. We must hold our Government and MPs to account while we lack credible opposition, and we must be the kind, compassionate, forward-thinking country than I know we can be. We can do that through grassroots movements like Extinction Rebellion, Make Votes Matter, Global Justice Now, London Renters Union, Transition (including Transition Leytonstone’s community fridge), and other community programmes like Eat or Heat.

Thank you again for the Green voters of Walthamstow who put their trust in me.

ReviveFM hustings video

Here’s the video from the Walthamstow hustings, hosted by ReviveFM. I look forward to going back at some point. Due to the studio constraints, they split the two-hour show into two halves, with me and the Brexit Party candidate going first, followed by Lib Dems vs Conservatives.

Saving the high street, helping the small businesses of Walthamstow

Modern life has changed the way we shop, and this has affected small businesses of Walthamstow. Greens don’t often get much attention for their plans to help small businesses, so I thought I’d outline some ways that the Green party could help, and why the idea of increasing the minimum wage need not be a problem for small businesses when applied in the context of other proposed changes.

Continue reading “Saving the high street, helping the small businesses of Walthamstow”

Hustings appearances before the election

Some hustings appearances for Walthamstow candidates are coming up:

DateHostLocation
Tuesday 3rd Dec
5pm-7pm
ReviveFM Radio Online
Thursday 5th Dec
12pm-1pm
Students Question Time Sir George Monoux College
Sunday 8th Dec
7.30pm – 8.30pm
St Peter-in-the-forest Peterhouse Church
& Community Centre
122 Forest Rise,
London
E17 3PW