IT IS not the contents of today’s Parliamentary report on the future funding of elderly care which are disturbing; it is the fact that countless critiques of this kind have also come to similar conclusions with little done to remedy matters.
This Public Accounts Committee study, which will almost certainly suffer a similar fate, tells us nothing new. It’s widely known that there is not enough money to look after an ageing population. It’s crystal clear that local authorities don’t have the finances to plug the gaps in care, despite being given the right to impose a two per cent levy on council tax bills.
What it does not identify, however, is a political leader who is prepared to grasp the nettle, think the unthinkable and stand up for the elderly and vulnerable so they receive the dignified care to which they should entitled as a basic human right?
Some will contend that the crisis is so serious that there should be a Minister for the Elderly in the Cabinet who is co-ordinating policy. Others will argue that Britain already has too many pontificating politicians for its own good.
Either way, nothing will change without a cross-party consensus and it would be regrettable if Westminster’s elite ignored the expertise of Barnsley MP Dan Jarvis, who has been revealing shameful statistics on the tens of thousands of elderly people who die prematurely each winter because of hypothermia and other conditions.
If Scandinavian countries can come up with effective ways to help the elderly to heat their homes, why can’t Britain which enjoys much milder winters in comparison? It’s a profound point after 43,000 premature deaths in the winter of 2014-15. If his local council in Barnsley can have the foresight to provide gas central heating for a vulnerable constituents, why can’t others?
As Mr Jarvis launches a nationwide petition demanding action, and joined up policies nationally and locally, this issue is too important to be left to party politics. A benchmark of a civilised society is how it cares for its most vulnerable and Britain, to its shame, is still failing this test of humanity because no one will lead from the front as this issue, likes so many, plays second fiddle to the EU referendum. Over to you, Mr Jarvis.