THIS WEEKEND’S report about an ageing society – and how changing demographics will alter the face of every Yorkshire community in the decades to come – should be placed in the context of the last election.
Theresa May did, at least, acknowledge the importance of the issue in 2017 – the problem was that her party’s manifesto proposals on social care were so cackhanded, and ill-conceived, that they prompted an embarrassing U-turn following a political and public outcry.
Yet the issue has not gone away. Quite the opposite. Its importance has increased still further in the intervening period – demand for care services continues to increase with each passing day – while politicians have simply paid ‘lip service’ to the need to ensure that the elderly, vulnerable and isolated can live with dignity.
Countless promises by Jeremy Hunt and Matt Hancock, the past and present Health and Social Care Secretaries, to publish a policy prospectus have failed to materialise; Boris Johnson appears to have forgotten his Downing Street pledge, on the day he succeeded Mrs May, to prioritise the issue and Labour appear preoccupied with scoring cheap political points rather than grasping the magnitude of the challenge.
However what they fail to realise, as they refuse to deviate from their pre-rehearsed election scripts, is that the cost of inaction is an even greater care crisis that will be even more difficult to reconcile and resolve when the next Parliament convenes. After all, the consequences of this social care vacuum will continue to be felt long after Brexit has been resolved and reconciled.