YP Comment: Care of elderly: Who foots bill? PM must accept consensus offer

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JUST AS night follows day, local authorities – Bradford being the latest – will take advantage of the Government’s relaxed rules on council tax increases in order to sustain, where possible, the provision of social care.

They have no choice if the elderly, and immobile, are not to go without home visits and the type of compassion which should always be the benchmark of a civilised society.

That said, this is only a short-term fix at best – the Local Government Association’s latest forecast is a £2.6bn funding shortfall by the end of the decade – and it is perturbing, with hospitals unable to cope with Britain’s ageing population, that there is no long-term plan in place so senior citizens can stay in their own home and surroundings for as long as possible.

There’s been no shortage of advice available to successive governments. The Wanless, Dilnot and Barker reports continue to gather dust in Whitehall because no Prime Minister has felt emboldened to explain to the country that taxes, or other charges, will have to rise if pensioners are to receive dignified care, even more so at a time when many can’t count upon the support 
of family because today’s population is more transient.

During a gruelling Parliamentary inquisition last month, Theresa May accepted that the status quo could not remain. She should now go further and accept today’s invitation from three respected select committee chairs, including Sheffield’s Clive Betts who oversees the scrutiny of local government, for a new political consensus to be forged.

The approach of Mr Betts, together with health select committee chairman Dr Sarah Wollaston and public accounts committee supremo Meg Hillier, could not be more collegiate. “In short, the problem is widely recognised – we now need political agreement so that a solution for the long term can be found. For our part we shall do what we can to contribute to a consensus.”

It would be a dark day for Britain, and a betrayal of Mrs May’s compassionate conservatism, if the Prime Minister did not respond in kind – not only does this issue transcend party politics but 
it is also a matter for this and all future Parliaments.

Hull’s sea-change

FIFTEEN years ago, progress in Hull constituted the opening of The Deep aquarium and the KC Stadium, as the venue was then called. Even though these developments were modest compared to the pace of change in other Northern cities, the events of 2002 marked a turning of the tide and gave local leaders the confidence to be even more ambitious with their outlook.

Fast forward to 2017 and Hull is transformed. Not only was there a spectacular launch to this year’s City of Culture celebrations which immediately silenced the sceptics, but the green energy revolution on the Humber continues to gather pace as the first ship left Alexandra Dock carrying the towers, blades and nacelles that will be used to construct an offshore wind farm off the Norfolk coast.

As The Yorkshire Post has said before, City of Culture should not just be judged on the quality of artistic endeavour and number of tourists who visit the area, but whether it also generates a new era of inward investment in addition to the spin-offs from the Siemens factory.

Yet, while this is primarily a matter for Hull City Council and its partners, the responsibility for selling Hull rests with all – whether it be teachers providing pupils with world-class education skills that are so attractive to employer or people being prepared to visit East Yorkshire and experience the sea-change for themselves rather than allowing their views to be determined by outdated opinions based on the stereotypes of yesteryear. One week into 2017 and Hull could not have asked for a better start to the New Year. Long may it continue.

A small gesture

CREDIT where credit is due. With Britain’s supermarkets frequently accused of putting profits before principle as competition for custom becomes ever more intense, it would be churlish not to acknowledge Leeds-based Asda and its support for the #hellomynameis campaign pioneered by Leeds doctor Kate Granger before her untimely death from cancer last year.

It’s new range of gnomes are being used to promote the late doctor’s initiative which, based on her own experiences, compelled medical staff to introduce themselves to patients at the outset of their consultation and treatment.

A small gesture, it all helps to ensure that Dr Granger’s legacy continues to be the type of compassionate care that 
she did so much to champion during her 
all-too-short life.