LEEDS has fantastic plans for two new wings at the Infirmary with an overall price of £600m, including a new Children’s Hospital.
Unfortunately, these are now under threat from a Treasury that is holding back on investment in public services and using the costs of the Covid pandemic as an excuse to rein in projects that are already well advanced.
Boris Johnson made the building of 40 new hospitals an election pledge, but this promise quickly unravelled. Some of the “new” hospitals were, in fact, already funded but building work had stalled, while others were only tiny community facilities.
Six large projects (including Leeds) were funded, leaving the remaining cash divided between other areas, with only enough for drawing up plans for what kind of hospital they might like at some unspecified future date.
A vague commitment to a further eight hospitals was added last October, while two more major projects were also included, but without the available pool of cash being increased.
The Department of Health and Social Care has recently instructed communications teams to describe new wings and refurbishments as “new hospitals”.
In addition, those places like Leeds that thought funding had been secured have been asked to submit alternative plans – including a cheaper option costing no more than £400m, and one of building in stages.
So, the current situation is that there are still no new hospitals being built, existing plans are being slashed, and old hospitals not prioritised for funding are falling down. Will the people of Leeds once again be denied their much-needed new hospital estate?
From: Professor Len Shackleton, Editorial and Research Fellow, Institute of Economic Affairs.
THE Prime Minister’s confirmation that National Insurance is to rise will enable some extra resource to go into social care, though much is likely to be swallowed up by the NHS’s insatiable demand for funds – particularly as Boris Johnson hints at pay increases for nurses.
The cap on individual spending on social care (a feature of the Dilnot report) will mean fewer family homes will need to be sold, but the effects of this on families will vary depending on the value of houses, which has a big regional dimension. Examples of apparent unfairness will abound.
And as this won’t be operative for the next two years; many families will still be caught out in the short run. It would have been far better to develop a form of insurance to cover catastrophic levels of care costs rather than have this financed by younger workers who will pay directly through higher employee contributions and indirectly through employer contributions depressing wages and job opportunities.
The employee National Insurance increase will not be paid by those over state pension age, who are the people most likely to require care over the next 20 years. Presumably as a feeble effort to offset what many see as generational injustice, there is also to be a tax on dividends. This is, however, not at all well targeted.
From: Robert Colvile, Director, Centre for Policy Studies.
THE pressure that Covid has imposed on the NHS is clear, as is the need for extra funding for social care – which must, as we have consistently argued, be accompanied by comprehensive reform.
The Government should be praised for having the courage to grasp the nettle on this issue. There are no perfect options here – but that said, it is disappointing that ministers have chosen to stick with the Dilnot model, which entrenches housing inequalities, rather than the state pension model proposed by the CPS and Damian Green MP.
The dividend tax hike, coming on top of a huge planned increase in corporation tax, will be a blow to business, the self-employed, and Britain’s tax competitiveness.
The National Insurance rise is also a bitter pill to swallow. We know social care is in dire need of reform, but raising employee NICs will immediately reduce take-home pay, at a time when pandemic-related inflation is just starting to take off. Increasing employer NICs will hit workers too, by holding back wage growth.
From: Stephen Chandler, President, Association of Directors of Adults Social Services.
WE have waited a quarter of a century for a government to deliver on the promise of sustainable funding and reform of adult social care.
This welcome announcement feels like a significant step forward and we hope that this will be the start of a new chapter for those of us with care and support needs, or who care for family members who do.
We are keen to look at the detail, but we hope that this package of measures can begin to help us to tackle the many challenges we face today, whilst transforming care and support for the future.
We look forward to working with Government to ensure that in the future everyone gets the care, support and safeguards they need to live good lives.
From: Henry Cobden, Ilkley.
ON the day Boris Johnson announced a plan to fund social care – without actually saying how he will improve services – Nicola Sturgeon revealed proposals to create a ‘national care service’ in Scotland.
Your editorial (The Yorkshire Post, September 8) was spot on – there now needs to be a national chief executive for social care who enjoys the same status and powers as the head of the NHS.
Do others agree?
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