AS Cabinet member for Adults, I can understand some of the arguments put forward by Father Neil McNicholas “Spare the elderly these unfair taxes” (The Yorkshire Post, March 31). But I have to say that our council, along with all others, is guided by national legislation.
In Redcar and Cleveland, there is a population of 134,700, with 22 per cent or 29,200 people aged over 65. This percentage is expected to increase to 27 per cent or 36,900 by 2030.
In recognition of these pressures, as well as the introduction of the National Living Wage, the Government introduced the Adult Social Care Levy so that councils could raise additional for such services.
This was adopted by every council with care responsibilities in the country – bar three.
True, it is a crude instrument, but at least people who need care and their families can be sure it goes towards easing the pressures on that service.
These issues are not isolated to Redcar and Cleveland, and the policy adopted by the council runs alongside its statutory responsibilities for providing assistance as set out in the Care Act 2014; people are only asked to pay what they are deemed to be able to afford to pay towards the costs of their care.
To help mitigate this financial burden, there is an exemption on council tax when residents are in hospital or residential care, and the property they own is empty.
We have a duty to safeguard older people and we are determined that the pressures that the Government has placed on us through cutting our funding will not impact on the most vulnerable in our community.
There is, of course, a greater moral argument here.
Many people compare and contrast the NHS which provides healthcare free at the point of access with social care which is funded in the way I have outlined.
To overcome this, I would love to see the National Health Service partnered by a National Care Service, also free at the point of access.
However Father McNicholas has to recognise that this would have to be financed by changes to the general taxation and National Insurance system which would involve some pretty hefty hits on disposable income for all.
I would accept that in the interests of a fair and caring society. Would he accept that?