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Government threats to care sector are alarming and misguided

A recent article published in the Telegraph raises some interesting questions for the care homes sector into the effects of losing “non-skilled” EU workers.

Government threats to care sector are alarming and misguided

In the article, there are a couple of references to ministerial comments which, if true, suggest this Conservative government is about to take a much more adversarial stance against the sector, rather than helping it in any way.

“If we accept the premise that it’s government’s job to look after people’s parents in homes,” says one minister, “we’ll end up paying for a second NHS.”

Well who exactly are “people’s parents”? They are citizens of this country, many of whom do not have the financial means to pay for their own care. And let’s forget this myth that the “people” in question are somehow abandoning their responsibilities as sons and daughters by forcing mum and dad into a care home for an easier life. These are typically people who have done everything they can and have reached the end of their own abilities, on whose mental health the effects of their parents dementia is now taking an intolerable toll. All of this whilst trying to hold down a full time job. Anyone in any doubt should simply walk round a care home and look at those living there. This stopped being a choice a long time ago.

We are also told this:

“ministers will keep telling care homes that higher wages are the remedy to staff shortages. And if that pushes up prices, especially for the councils who buy care home services? Or if a shortage of migrants pushes up prices in general? Alok Sharma, the new Business Secretary, has a simple answer to that one: so be it.”

Pushes up prices for the councils? They are already scraping the bottom of the barrel when it comes to cost savings. Care operators in areas which are heavily reliant on public funding can’t simply “push up prices”. They essentially take what they are given. If the staff costs increase to an unsustainable level, then they will close, and thousands of dependent souls across the country will lose their homes.

Caring for those in our society who are utterly dependant is a public function. If it needs to be funded like a second NHS, then “so be it”. Raise taxes and get on with it.

Ian Wilkie

February 2020