The abiding problem of Kent County Council is that nobody wants to pay for it. When council tax or business rates go up we get sensational headlines and outrage inevitably follows, as the comments in the Kentonline piece makes clear.
Health & Social Care in Kent received a welcome boost recently when the extra 2% KCC were allowed to raise on the Council tax, meant that they could ring fence this money just for Health & Social Care. This money will not be enough though to meet the whole budget.
Solutions are needed and I can personally think of three.
1 – Linking NHS and social care funding to a minimum share of GDP, which would encourage preventative investment and aid long-term planning by protecting funding from short-term shifts in the political climate.
2 – Better use of demographic data. The biggest unknown when it comes to the demographic future is migration. Will families with babies continue to move from the local flats as their children become mobile? Will the high income families that have established gentrified inner-city enclaves remain there as they age? Will the next group of immigrants swept to Britain by war or economic competition settle in the same urban places?
The trick for KCC planners is to distinguish how much of future demographic change is predetermined, how much is effectively uncertain and unpredictable, and how much can be seriously influenced – and then to plan accordingly. KCC’s mantra should be: predict what is not under their control, plan what is under their control.
Care homes places are largely in demand by people in Kent who are over the age of 75, a group with considerable housing wealth. Many, however, will struggle to access this capital as houses are a ‘lumpy’ asset: it is easier to sell half of your shares than half your home. Equity release products are available on the private market, but these can be expensive and not everyone is eligible.
Through deferred payment agreements (DPAs), the state offers a solution to this problem. Under such arrangements, a local authority postpones invoicing care fees in exchange for a claim on the participant’s housing equity. This money, plus interest, is then recouped, typically after the participant passes away. I agree it is not a perfect solution, but when there are no other solutions being put forward, it is better than none.
Since councils recover loans from people’s housing equity, they do not have to spend taxpayers’ money to finance the scheme in the medium term. Deferred payment agreements, therefore, align with the KCC’s alleged commitment to fiscal sustainability and responsibility.
Restricted eligibility is the main reason why deferred payment agreements have failed to take off. Set at £23,250, the means test prevents too many people from accessing the scheme. The government should therefore consider extending this form of support to people with moderate savings. A limit of £75,000 – £125,000 would increase eligibility by 40 to 50%.
The impact of social policy on population trends reflects not only on the number of people but on households,the main unit of consumption and expenditure. The time that youngsters stay with parents before setting up their own home has been lengthening. The feasibility of paying for a care home without spending one’s entire wealth has diminished, adding pressure to care in the home by relatives or others.
I know for some these will not be palatable ideas, nor am I suggesting these are the only ideas and/or solutions, but political parties are short termists and all too often put politics ahead of people. When it comes to our grandparents health & social care and our own, we can no longer treat this as a political football and keep kicking these problems down the line.
Politics is as J.K. Galibraith said, a choice between the disastrous and unpleasant, and as unpleasant as these ideas/suggestions may be, at least I have the courage of my convictions to spell them out to you.
By voting for me in the forthcoming KCC elections on May 4th I will engage with the ruling party and ask them to kick these proposals up to central government for serious consideration and to improve the health & social care planning which is absolutely necessary.
Vote Independent – Vote Bryan Rylands – Folkestone West
May 4th 2017
Published & Promoted by Bryan Rylands Flat D Avenay Court Folkestone CT20 2LN
All the information above is my own and does not represent the views of the Shepwayvox Team who have kindly allowed me to use their blogsite.