Remember the care badge? Just one per cent of carers recognised – Tom Richmond

MATT Hancock’s so-called ‘badge of honour’ for social care workers – the country’s unsung heroes – can now be revealed to be a political ‘badge of shame’.

Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock at the relaunch of the Care badge in April.

This is the green badge, emblazoned with the word ‘Care’ that the Cabinet Minister proudly relaunched in April as the Covid-19 pandemic, and shortages of PPE equipment, gripped Britain.

Putting on his best cheesy smile, he declared: “This badge will be a badge of honour in a very real sense, allowing social care staff proudly and publicly to identify themselves, just like NHS staff do with that famous blue and white logo.”

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It was also hoped – with sincerity and seriousness – that those sporting the lapel would be shown respect by people in the community and allowed to the front of supermarket queues and so on.

Matt Hancock sported his Care badge on one occasion in the House of Commons in May.

And the Health and Social Care Secretary briefly sported his ‘Care’ badge when he answered an urgent question in the House of Commons amid accusations that this was just a gesture and gimmick.

So it has proved. Prompted by a question tabled in Parliament by Lord Rogan, a veteran of Northern Ireland politics, I simply asked Mr Hancock’s department this week to confirm how many people are eligible for badges and how many have been distributed?

The answer was staggering. There are 1.5 million adult social carers – and just 15,000 badges were distributed before supplies ran out. No wonder I haven’t seen any being word by proud recipients.

The number 15,000 equates to just one per cent of carers.

Matt Hancock usually wears a NHS badge in public.

“Our frontline care workers are now able to unite under one Care banner to help respond to their calls to create an NHS-style single identity to better celebrate and recognise the care sector,” said a DHSC spokeswoman.

“The new brand symbolises the compassion and dedication of our care workers and is already in use on our new adult social care recruitment campaign and our dedicated care workforce app.

“We want to ensure all 1.5 million of the current adult social care workforce are able to wear this badge with pride. We have distributed all of the existing stock of badges to the frontline and are in the process of manufacturing more.”

I’ll be checking up on the rate of progress – though carers would probably prefer assurances about future supplies of PPE, a bit more money in the pocket and some respect from Boris Johnson rather than a tokenistic Hancock badge.

But this does prove – once again – that social care is the Cinderella service and will remain as such until it is treated with the same urgency as the NHS. After all, Matt Hancock is supposed to be the Health – and Social Care – Secretary. At the moment, he’s just doing half a job.

IF Chris Grayling had any self-awareness, he would never allowed himself to be put forward to sit on Parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee – and never mind chair it.

As Sir Malcolm Rifkind, a former Foreign Secretary and ex-chair of the committee, said so candidly: “He has no background in intelligence.” A statement with a double meaning.

Or John Bercow, the former Speaker, who ventured: “Anything he (Chris Grayling) touches turns to disaster. He is congenitally incapable of seeing a problem without making it very considerably worse.”

The blame lies with Boris Johnson and Dominic Cummings for trying to impose ‘old Failing’ on Parliament out of misguided loyalty.

My worry now is that they will rig the honours system to give the ex-Transport Secretary a knighthood as a jolly ‘reward for failure’ to appease him.

They must not. Asked at PMQs to honour the last surviving Battle of 
Britain air crew member, Group Captain John Hemingway, Mr Johnson replied: “These are matters for the honours committees, which are independent of Government.”

I’ll remind him of that if the name Grayling ever appears on a future list.

A GOOD point on apprentices by Robert Halfon, the Tory chair of Parliament’s Education and Skills Committee.

When Britain leaves the EU on December 31, he wants Ministers to rewrite the rules for public sector procurement contracts which are worth £250bn a year.

He suggests any large private company bidding for just such a contract must have an apprenticeship commitment guaranteeing that a certain proportion of its workforce will be trainees.

Cabinet Minister Michael Gove says it is an “important point” and that apprenticeships “do so much to improve social mobility” and enhance “British manufacturing”. Will anything happen? I’m not holding my breath.

LIKE many, I found Radio 5 Live’s intoxicating mix of current affairs and sport to represent the best of the BBC year after year.

The unfairly maligned John Inverdale was a talisman and his broadcast of the 2008 Cheltenham Gold Cup day – Denman won the big race – was a tour de force as he switched seamlessly from the racing to the safe discovery of missing schoolgirl Shannon Matthews in Dewsbury. He never missed a beat.

I thought of Inverdale on Saturday when I instinctively switched to the channel last Saturday as soon as it was confirmed that larger-than-life football legend Jack Charlton had died.

Were there any tributes? No. Just two hours of inane drivel from two presenters by the name of Scott Mills and Chris Stark who were asking listeners to name famous people they had met who smelled nice and other pointless garbage.

Charlton wasn’t just a great footballer. He was a character who lit up lives – like the waitress given a £20 tip after the icon asked her about her hopes and dreams while working in a cafe. He deserved better from the BBC. So, too, did listeners.

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