Docking Benefits and Blaming the Poor

I know I covered this more generally on Monday in my rant about ‘benefits’ but it’s worth coming back to with the proposals explained in the Guardian

Magistrates and crown court judges could be asked to dock benefits from convicted criminals under preliminary proposals being drawn up by the government in response to the riots, the Guardian can reveal.

Ministers are looking hard at how benefits, or tax credits, could be taken away to show criminals that privileges provided by the state can be temporarily withdrawn.

Under the proposals anyone convicted of a crime could be punished once rather than potentially facing separate fines – first by a magistrates court and then a benefit office. By giving powers to the courts to strip benefits, the Department of Work and Pensions would not be required to intervene in the criminal justice system.

Yesterday, a little tardy, I know, I listened to the podcast of Pienaar’s Politics which I tend to really enjoy and I did except for the presence of Kelvin McKenzie and an odious interview with Iain Duncan-Smith in which he discussed this.

(Iain Duncan-Smith who, incidently, laughingly claimed at his constituency of Chingford and Woodford Green was ‘inner city’. Really? Waltham Forest is inner city? Really? Have I missed something? Anyway, back to the programme).

Let me explain why it is so odious if I need to.

Firstly there are the assumptions that all those who rioted are claiming benefits. Yes, I know there are links to poverty but will how will there be an equivalent punishment for someone who commits a crime and does not claim any money from the State. This is an intentional scapegoating and targeting of poverty.

The riots were awful but the causes run much much deeper and broader than ‘gangs’ and ‘benefit fraud’.

Duncan-Smith in a truly odious and preaching manner seemed to make links between ‘generations of joblessness’ and the feckless claimants. He emphasised his joy in ripping away support for those who received Invalidity Benefit and while me gave a cursory nod to those who might have caring roles – he mentioned them solely in terms of the money that they save the government.

How about truly visionary leaders that display integrity and leadership rather than those who pander solely to  the lowest common denominator of cheap ‘kicks’ at those who need to claim money for support and those who are not able to afford the lives they see the privileged lead.

This week we have seen our millionaire cabinet members talk about the ‘feral underclass’ (Kenneth Clarke who was one of the few Tories I had a smidgeon of respect for previously).  Really?

Yes, the people involved in the riots may well have been some of the poorest and most disengaged but that doesn’t mean the cause of the riots needs to look solely at those who were out on the streets looting. If it does, it allows the cosy middle classes to look on from the suburbs (or in IDS language ‘inner cities’) to preach from their own comfortable positions of superiority.

These riots, this inequity, it is the problem of ‘other people’.

Surely the riots, the way that culture has become so consumerist in its nature, the dishonesty and the lack of censorship of anything other than ‘getting away with it’ the lack of inherent understanding of right from wrong in any other terms – that is not a problem of the poor and it is not a problem which is solved by taking away ‘benefits’. That merely pushes all the problems of a society onto one particular class that will match with the photofit of ‘problems’ that rest most easily in the middle-class heads. By looking at analysis of ‘who rioted’ or rather ‘who was caught‘ and looking at lists from magistrate’s courts we provide a very narrow view of what was responsible in our society for creating a moment when people thought they could ‘get away with it’.  The riots were not about who was rioting. They were about what is and has been happening within our society from top to tail and by concentrating reasons and solutions on the lower end, we allow those more privileged  to get away with all kinds of poor behaviours and excuse the problems that their behaviours have caused which have led to such strong feelings of disillusionment.

Personally and I base this on no research base other than my gut feeling, I think the problem  and the problems in society must be examined in a much deeper and more fundamental way. In England, at least, we have seen successive scandals and betrayals from the finance services through the collapse and deceit in the banking system, the MPs fiddling expenses compulsively, the Press through the phone hacking scandals and the police for bribery.

While politicians lament of a world where people loot ‘because they can get away with it’ and only refrain from crime not because of an inherent ethical desire but because they will not be caught, it is impossible to separate those who loot shops from those who loot the public purse. Those who sit in their comfortable suburban (sorry, inner city) homes.

How can we, as a nation, allow our poorest people to be scapegoated by an establishment (financial/political and media) that has been equally deceitful but who will never feel ‘benefits’ being taken away because they are all wrapped up in each others’ collective pockets. They will never be evicted from their council houses because of the behaviour of their children because they are fortunate enough to own their own homes and they will never suffer from having child benefit withdrawn when their kids truant because they aren’t reliant on child benefit and their children have trust funds.

How can we allow this to be the voice of ‘reason’ in the country?

I truly can’t understand it but I know it makes me angry.

Benefits

I’ve made my position clear about ‘benefits’ over the year. ‘Benefits’ are not really benefits at all.

I decided to look at the meaning of the word ‘benefit’ and found (according to dictionary.com)

ben·e·fit

[ben-uh-fit]  noun, verb,ben·e·fit·ed or ben·e·fit·ted, ben·e·fit·ing or ben·e·fit·ting.

1.something that is advantageous or good; an advantage:

2.a payment or gift, as one made to help someone or given by a benefit society, insurance company, or public agency:

3.a theatrical performance or other public entertainment toraise money for a charitable organization or cause.

4.Archaic . an act of kindness; good deed;

Perhaps our national failing is that we still mentally see ‘benefits’ as a gift and not a right.  The payments given to those who have some form of need should not be considered as an ‘act of charity’ by government. It is money necessary to live not money in the gift of the government.

Sometimes language is and can be important.

By Cameron and his Conservative-led coalition like spreading the rhetoric that ‘benefits’ as well as ‘public housing’ should somehow be related to ‘good behaviour’.

This article for example as a case in point which explains

David Cameron wrote in a Sunday newspaper that he wanted to look at going further in welfare reforms, calling for the child benefit payments of parents who play truant from school to be withdrawn.

He suggested a more ambitious welfare reform programme when he posed the question of whether the government should be “asking much more of people on benefits who should be looking for work – or imposing even stricter penalties on those who refuse job offers?”

Cameron moves in a no-doubt electorally pleasing but morally questionable path.

Calling for the removal of child benefit payments to the parents of children who play truant is morally repulsive. It further impedes those who rely more heavily on those child benefit payments. Lets not forget that child benefit will be means tested soon (in a pathetically haphazard way but no matter). Where is the proposal for penalties for those parents who don’t receive child benefit and whose children play truant? Or do they really think truancy only affects ‘poor children’.

It insults our intelligence to make these proposals but they play very well to a public crowd that has been increasingly weaned to divide our own population into an ‘us/them’ dichotomy between those who work and those who do not work.

The government (and the previous government too) persist with a ‘divide and rule’ policy of presenting those who are not able to work against those who do work – well, we should never forget that for those us who aren’t party to the millions in trust funds that most of our government members grew up with – there is a extremely tenuous link between being a have and being a have-not.

The Guardian article goes on to quote Cameron saying

“What about welfare? The old something-for-nothing system we had under Labour had a poisonous effect on responsibility in our society. Again, we’ve already taken bold action – we’re in the process of moving hundreds of thousands of people who are fit to work off incapacity benefit and are imposing sensible limits on the amount of benefit people can take. But again, given the scale of the problem, can’t we go further? Say by asking much more of people on benefits who should be looking for work – or imposing even stricter penalties on those who refuse job offers?”

Something-for-nothing? Really? Personally I believe that people are entitled to a level of support from the state in order to live and that Cameron is playing games with words and assumptions when he appeals to the ‘Daily Mail’ reading crowd. He makes much reference to ‘benefit cheats’ as talks about ‘taking away benefits’ as if it is a reward that we had to well-behaved dogs and it is insulting in the extreme.

I those doubt that reforms are needed but the language in itself in invidious and pushes our thoughts to regard ‘benefits’ and ‘benefit claimants’ in a particularly unfavourable light.

And as an aside, as was pointed out to me, the photo in the Guardian article – well it has a picture of Charles and Camilla. Now THERE’S a family existing on benefits with absolutely no public gain and I think their social housing should be taken away for the genuine good of the nation. But that’s another question for another day..

Dilnot Discussion and Links

Although there are some good points which highlight the main issues which will be published in the long-awaited Dilnot report here and here.  We have a good idea what might be discussed.

Rich at arbitrary constant has opened up a discussion post for issues concerning Dilnot so thoughts can be collated in one place from different groups of people –  so I do recommend anyone stopping by heads over there. He has also curated a fine collection of links related to Dilnot.

I have also been involved in a small way in the set up of an impressive (not on my account!) group blog – Rock, Paper, Politics – which is to cover politics with a small ‘p’ rather than grandiose political labelling. The first set of posts are up and I’d recommend you go and look – my post is here!

– Thirdly, I’ve been playing with Google + over the weekend, and there’s a great post here from Claire– an OT – who explores the uses of the network specifically for OTs but everything she says is equally relevant for social workers. I have a Google + account for the blog which can be found/followed by searching for my username which is FM Blog (I know, I know – I do have a personal account which I am currently using much more extensively!).

Why I’m marching

The Guardian published an article on their website yesterday titled ‘Why we’re marching?’ and it gave the points of view of six people who were going to be attending the TUC organised rally on Saturday.

Uni brennt Demonstration Wienketu@Flickr

I am going to be attending. I have had a lot of time to consider whether to attend or not and what I think I might achieve by attending.

Firstly, I had to decide whether I attend as a member of my trade union (Unison) as a member of my professional association (BASW), as a member of my community (local group from the area I live are organising) or as  a member of a pressure group (SWAN).  I could also march as a part of a women’s ‘bloc’.

That, in itself is a question of identities and a practical lesson in some of the systems that we build around us and how we choose to identify ourselves. As it happens, I have chosen not to march under any particular banner but with a few friends together who would ally ourselves to different causes and who have different identities.

But back to the reasons and I’ll start with the negative reasons.

I don’t want to condone a government nor a society (because I do believe that the Labour Party have also been complicit in this) that ostracises and alienates people who depend on the support of the state to live dignified lives.  Talk of ‘alarm clock’ Britain is offensive to me. Talk of the ‘deserving and undeserving’ claimants moves our society back to a Victorian age. I am not marching for my own job – I am fairly confident that that’s safe in one form or another – but I’m marching for the people whom I come into contact through my work who I see genuinely suffering and who exist on some of the fringes of the mainstream and will not be marching for themselves.

I will be marching for the carers who have having respite cut and the service users who are terrified to send off claims for Attendance Allowance and Disability Living Allowance because they don’t want to be ‘seen as scroungers’.

As long as programmes such as ‘Saints and Scroungers’ are allowed to be made on our public service network, I’ll not stop fighting and shouting for a change to the attitudes towards social assistance in this country.

I see the effects of this every day and on many lives.

I’m marching to protest against a government and an opposition party that seek to make a wholesale reduction of 20% in claimants for Disability Living Allowance.

The PR machines of politicians have been working overtime to blur the lines between in-work benefits for disabled adults and out of work benefits. There is no subtlety in the government’s agenda and rhetoric and it needs to be challenged

I am marching against a system (and this is the last government as well) that has destroyed the quality of adult social care over the last decade so we remain absolutely dependent on  private companies – their profits and their shareholders – for delivering care or lack of it to the most vulnerable people in our society. I am absolutely not excusing Labour for their role in this – ultimately, that’s why I am marching under my own banner rather than any set up by an organisation of which I am a member.

I also feel that I need to make my presence felt in the face of a government carrying out it’s politically motivated cuts which shriek of the worst Thatcherite policies.

I march as someone who did actually vote for the Liberal Democrats at the last election and many previous elections to ensure that my voice is not lost and my vote was not wasted when I make my opposition  to this government felt.

I also march to express my anger at the government’s proposals to dismantle our National Health Service – helped by Labour’s policies over the past decade, it has to be said – but we need to make sure that the government remember that they have absolutely no mandate to do this.

Those reasons though, are mostly negative so here are the positive reasons that I am marching.

I am marching to show solidarity. To show that one doesn’t have to  march because we are personally feeling the effects of the cuts, to be honest, I am not to a large extent – but because I need to make my voice heard on behalf of those who cannot and THAT is what big society and society as a whole is about.

I am marching to push for a re-examination of some of the cruellest policies and the lack of consideration of where the bulk of the cuts will fall – namely on those who are the least able to resist them.

These government programmes for cuts have been poorly thought through ‘trigger’ responses to a government that has no experience of governing and lives off entitlements themselves.

Is it any more ‘reprehensible’ to be wholly reliant on ‘daddy’s trust fund’? How many government ministers know the true meaning of poverty and how hard it is to work through it? I doubt there can be many.

We do not live in a meritocratic system and we need to prove that when voices are not heard through the ballot box we have other means to make our points.

Our ‘leaders’ say we are ‘all in this together’ but we are  not and they cannot be allowed to get away with such lies. They are not ‘in this’ with us.

I am marching because I want to be a part of proving what we can really do when we are ‘all in this together’.

I am happy to pay higher taxes for services that I personally will never use or need. That is society. That is the society I want. That is the society I want to march with.

These cuts are ideologically driven. They are not ‘the only way’. That is why I am marching.

Fund Our Future : Stop the Cuts - National DemonstrationMatt Dinnery@Flickr

Anyone else going to be there? I can’t promise to meet up because it probably won’t be the most conducive environment to meet and have a chat but I’d be interested in the reasons of others.

Looking ahead to 2011

I’m almost reluctant to write up my thoughts for the coming year and it is a battle to contain my more pessimistic urges.  I wrote this post and sat on it for a while because it came across as too depressing.

I try to be as optimistic as I can in my day to day life. As even if optimism/pessimism make no difference on actual outcomes, at least I’ll go down happier if I think positive!

I’m finding it really hard to find much positive to say about my thoughts for 2011 though.

Cuts

That’s an easy theme. No doubt that it will be the main background through which 2011 is played politically both nationally and locally. In my personal and professional life.

As we turn increasingly into a fire-fighting, crisis management service there will be less, if any, space for preventative work. The government and the local authority won’t headline this because it goes against every piece of evidence about long-term savings but the savagery of the cuts will affect those who just come in below the ‘life or death’ bandings.

Protests

Again, this is barely a prediction. Protests and rallies have already been called. They will be increasingly well-attended. I fully intend to participate myself. As people realise their actual tax credits decrease their real income, there will be a wider anger directed towards the government and the poor political process that has served us so badly.

Care Funding

Yes, the next commission will report. It will benefit most those who have the most to lose. Poor people who might have to sell the houses that they own to pay for the care that costs a significant amount of money. Inheritances will be preserved. What that does to the quality and support for those that don’t have, well, we’ll see. I’ve tried being positive, now I’m just cynical. The government have an agenda to protect their own political classes. They have no desire whatsoever to produce a more equitable scheme of funding. No political party does – which is why these consultations have dragged on for so long.

‘Big Society’

Big Society will be discussed and debated. And will be shown up for the sham that it is in the face of funding being withdrawn from voluntary organisations. It will be an opportunity for private enterprise to ‘invest’ in communities. Youth centres  sponsored by McDonalds. Libraries sponsored by BP.

Social Work

The College of Social Work comes into formal existence this year. It has already made some kind of deal with Unison for union membership. I expect it will merge with BASW (British Association of Social Workers) too. I hope so anyway. It will continue to be run by academics, managers and retired social workers because no-one on the ‘front line’ will have any time to be involved in the processes and committee upon committee will be attended by professional ‘consultants’ who may once have been social workers but remain so far removed from actual client contact that they will have no idea about whom they allege to speak for.

I remain hopeful that there will be some kind of positive outcome.

 

They’ll be more scandals, more appalling practice and more horrified ‘Daily Mail’ stories. No interest whatsoever will be shown in any of the good work that is done every day. Again and again.

 

Social Media

This is a new one for me. Twitter become much more of a key network for me. I love it for so many reasons but mostly because it gives me more of a character than just a blog does. I love some of the conversations that I’ve been able to have with people whom I would never have had the opportunity with engaging with on any other forum.  Local authorities are increasingly involving themselves in micro-blogging. I’m surprised that there is less in terms of standard blogging as far as government is concerned. It remains the domain generally of individuals and local politicians rather than local officials on behalf of the organisation for whom they work rather than as individuals.

If I really knew what what happen in this sphere, I’d make a fortune but in the meantime I’ll say that there will be more online consultations and more discussion and debate. And more blogs,  podcasts and debates which involve users and carers. It’s a great opportunity and could potentially increase voices sometimes lost in the political process.

NHS

Efficiency savings. Ha. Real growth in spending. Ha. We are losing services hand over fist and the government is able to get away with this kind of whitewash. It will continue and services will struggle.  I’ll have to move on from this subject because it really does fill me with fear just thinking about it too much.

And some more local predictions for me and my team

Reconfiguration

Yes, it’s coming. Another one. I think the third now in just over 2 years but this one is a big one and it’s going to affect not only our team but the entire Trust. Changes have already started and it’ll be the main theme for the year as jobs are lost and downgraded. More staff leave through the so-called ‘natural wastage’ and aren’t replaced.  It seems there may be a change in the way the AMHP service is arranged locally as well. I try to ignore rumours and whisperings and let all the possible plans go over my head somewhat until anything is confirmed.

I’m lucky in the sense that I genuinely love my job. I was talking about it to a colleague yesterday who asked me if I was looking for other jobs and I honestly don’t think I could work for a better team with better managers/consultants/colleagues etc. That’s a pretty special place to be and while I couldn’t, hand on heart, say I love the work I do every day, I wouldn’t want to be doing anything else. In my dreams when I win the lottery, I still work, just part-time!

Training

I hope to take another student social worker on this year. I might look into possibilities of being an off-site practice teacher though as it was a real struggle with workloads to manage having a student in the team. Of course, it didn’t particularly help that I needed to go into hospital the last time I had a student.  I also worry a little that the lack of staff in the team might lead to managers seeking to push additional work towards a student.  The local authority training budgets have been slashed so I don’t think I’ll be able to continue with the Higher Specialist Award in Practice Education (which is my longer term goal.. ) this year or probably for the next few years as quite rightly any funding should be focussed on those who have not accessed training and if there’s one thing I have been doing of late, it is accessing any training available.

Blog

One time in particular I was very close to closing this blog down. I even set up a parallel non-related one as a kind of outlet to keep me going and give me something to write about in the expectation that I would stop writing about work-related things. Anonymity can be a burden at times.  It was just a little too hard to completely let go. I would say it’s about 50/50 as to whether I’m around next year to reflect on these predictions at all. I do enjoy writing though and sharing my thoughts about issues as they arise. I hope to continue that whether published or not. It really does help me with my self-reflection and maintaining my interest and connection with current affairs.

I don’t really stick to resolutions but I do want to read and participate more widely in the blogging communities. I was better at it last year and this year have become more insular due to time and health mostly but I want to re-engage more over the next year.

And I have a suspicion that when I do write, it will be a lot more political in tone which leads to..

 

Social Action

One of my resolutions last year was to be more involved in Unison and BASW, seeing as I pay the subs. This year, I’m particularly going to focus on Unison – the issues and general themes of cuts, cuts and more cuts go far beyond social work specifically. This year I also attended an event put on by SWAN (Social Work Action Network) and it really got me fired up. I hope to go to more of their events. I really want this government to know how much their cuts are hurting and whom they are hurting. I find the injustice in the focus of the cuts and the ‘blame’ narrative sickening. I feel I have to push against it at every angle. I can see myself getting far more involved politically on  many levels.

There is a lot to fight for.

 

And I hope there is not even one single day of sickness that I take to make up for last year (yes, I feel unnecessarily guilty.. ).

Finally, I hope that everyone has a hopeful and positive year ahead. It won’t be easy but that’s why it needs more effort than ever before.
Fireworks #1

Happy New Year.

Care Credits

Paul Burstow MP, Minister of State for Care Se...

Image by Department of Health via Flickr

Over the weekend, the Paul Burstow announced that he was looking at the system of ‘credits’ where people who volunteer to help older adults and adults with disabilities in exchange for ‘credits’ towards their own care when they are older that can also be ‘cashed’ in favour of family members.

Where to start on this? It sounds wonderful in theory and ties in to the happy, smiley so-called ‘big society’ theme. Let’s all help each other and do pleasant voluntary work. The issues come on a few different strands.

Firstly, it is not entirely voluntary if there is an active reward in place. It is payment by another less obvious (or perhaps clunkily over-obvious) way. Perhaps I have a romanticised view of voluntary work – I have spent a considerable amount of time carrying out voluntary work for the record, and the motivations that might push someone into caring for potentially vulnerable adults is something that has often raised red flags to me.

Secondly, it is absolutely a system that could potentially favour the time (and cash) rich who would have more leisure time to expend on voluntary work.

Thirdly, it could take work away from skilled social care workers and intimates a potentially dangerous ‘anyone can do it’ attitude towards care work as picked up on the Going Public blog over the weekend.

One of the more concerning aspects that I heard about was a report that the Care Minister, Mr Burstow was suggesting that you get more ‘credits’ for carrying out personal care than you would for domestic care.

Now that, was the really frightening part for me.

He suggests that these volunteers would not only be engaged to carry out the tasks that a voluntary organisation might cover today – some befriending, popping out to get some shopping, this is all covered in the current system (on a purely voluntary basis of course), a bit of company and a chat over a cup of tea.

Very different to introduce a ‘personal care’ angle. This is care that should be provided by professionals who are trained and have to adhere to a professional contract. Personal care is not something that anyone who fancies a few extra ‘credits’ can turn up and do. It sounds great on paper but firstly it is a way of shifting the expectations of what the state will provide for older adults and adults with disabilities, it denigrates the experience and training of those who currently carry out this work well – (I know there are A LOT of problems with some care workers but honestly, if you think it is bad now, wait until the volunteers arrive.. and there are a lot of very good care workers as well!), it potentially discriminates against those who, for whatever reason, have not been able to ‘build up’ their credits, either because they have some disabilities themselves, or just have to devote all the possible time they have to raising a family, caring for a family member informally or just, well, working hard to pay the rent/mortgage.

Would this scheme be developed into other areas or professions? Will I get credits against my tax bill if I run a through sums up on a calculator? Will I be able to get my copies of the daily newspaper free because I ramble on a bit on a blog? If I pop into a school and talk about something or other that I know about, will I get credits against a night class?  If I put a plaster on the knee of a kid who falls over in the street, will I get credits towards my prescription costs? I shouldn’t give them any ideas, I guess – but for me, it is a devaluation of the adult social care sector to suggest that ‘anyone can do it’.

This is another erosion of our expectations of what the state will provide for us. Who would honestly believe that any credits achieved now would seriously be honoured by a different government in 20-30-40 years time?

In some ways it is the idea that has been planted in our head that we should assume nothing is sacred as the government chips and chistles away the support for the least able at every level.

Sure, it is the older adults, adults with disabilities, people who are unemployed who will be first,  but the ideology behind the cuts is becoming more and more apparent.

I thought I was a fairly passive, fluffy, pragmatic, ‘let’s all get on and be friends’ type of person and I am, for the most part but I’m really angry with the government now. Really, really angry. I haven’t felt that since I was at school and railing against Thatcher in my highly ideological Marxist phase…

The government is set to destroying the foundations that have taken decades to lay down and it is not something that we should be willing to give up without a fight.

Hospitals

The National Health Service Norfolk and Norwic...

Image via Wikipedia

Today, the Telegraph printed a letter sent to them by the Chair of the NHS Confederation which states that

The NHS Confederation has expressed concern that cuts to local government could have a knock-on impact on NHS services.

Less support from council services will quickly lead to increased pressure on emergency services and hospitals. Hospital beds will be blocked for those who badly need care because the support services that the elderly require after discharge will not available.

Of course, this comes as no surprise. This happens today and has been happening for years. It was the impetus behind the Community Care (Delayed Discharge) Act 2003 which allowed hospitals to charge local authorities for patients that they are unable to provide care for when the patients are ‘ready for discharge’.

The difference now is that the services to be provided will be in shorter supply, on tighter budgets and the local authorities won’t necessarily be able to pay the charges that are imposed through this Act.

This Act is one of the sharpest indicators of a ‘robbing Peter to pay Paul’ approach to health and social care funding when money is taken out of one pot to put into another.

Has it speeded up hospital discharges? Yes.

Has it speeded up appropriate hospital discharges? Debatable.

The raising of eligibility criteria and the increase of costs for services to those who are means testing will challenge local authorities as they seek to provide services on discharge.

Indeed, of the £1 billion health service budget that seems to have been redirected to social care, the Chancellor was careful to specify ‘reenablement projects’ which are often exactly the projects that manage speedy hospital discharges, providing a free initial service before the costs kick in.

Only one problem here. The money isn’t ringfenced.

I don’t like referring to ‘bed blocking’. Each of those patients in those beds needs to be treated with dignity and respect. When I was in hospital (as a patient) myself, I saw a consultant berating the woman in the bed opposite me for still being in hospital when it cost so much and she was clearly ready to go home.

Poor woman. So much for dignity.

She explained to the person in the neighbouring bed that it would cost her £12 per hour for the support the social worker said she needed and she wasn’t sure her husband would agree.

It was a glimpse into the future for me and a chance to look beyond the role I have as I was merely another patient in another bed at that point.

This is where we will be going because there will be more people unwilling or unable to pay the means-tested amounts to see them out of hospitals. Hospitals will be under ever-increasing pressure to discharge and the local authorities will be left to pick up the pieces for ever too speedy hospital discharges or to break the news when the ‘re-enablement’ money runs out.

Because it will run out. It will run out very quickly.

But there’s two sides to this. Yes, the local authority will struggle to provide care to facilitate speedy discharges because they will have fewer resources and fewer members of staff but also, higher eligibility criteria will mean that more people come to social services via hospitals than at earlier stages of their needs when the hospital admission may have been preventable.

Spending on social care and widening eligibility does not cost, it saves. It saves pain and hardship. It saves dignity and potentially unnecessary hospital admissions. It saves money. It saves lives.