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After the Conservative election disaster, is the party policy on care still the same?

Blog Post 16 October 2017

The Tory party conference was overshadowed by Mrs May’s cough, her questionable ability to hold on to the leadership and the political infighting.

Other stories were lost in the Press clamour to promote this circus. One of them – I stumbled on accidently thanks to Google – was what Jackie Doyle-Price, minister for social care and mental health, is saying about the way ahead.

Bizarrely, it appears the very policy that has effectively created a hung parliament is still central to the Conservative cause.

Speaking at an event at the Tory party conference organised by the Social Market Foundation, Ms Doyle-Price said: “As a society we’ve become less good at looking out for our neighbours, not just our families. 

“When I was growing up, people used to be in and out of each other’s back doors, having cups of tea; if anybody was struggling, everybody would muck in and look after them. And that’s gone. We could do a lot better as a society and really look out for each other.

“You actually find care responsibilities being discharged among ethnic minority populations more than the indigenous population and that’s because they bring with them cultural practices, and we used to have those.”

Okay, so does this mean we need to learn lessons from our ethic groups?

And then Ms Doyle-Price defended May’s flagship policy that would see more elderly people having to pay for social care in their own home.

“The reality is the taxpayer shouldn’t necessarily be propping up people to keep their property and hand it on to their children when they’re generating massive care needs,” she said.

How could this ‘news’ not bet a good airing. It certainly passed me by – until now.

Ms Doyle-Price also suggested that because there were a shortage of homes, the elderly were left “rattling around” in family properties that were unsuitable.

 

Her views, delivered at an event organised by the Social Market Foundation, for appeal over-simplistic. Not enough homes? I thought we were in a building boom, with the Halifax reporting house prices rising at the fastest rate for eight months. And of course, at the weekend we heard Mrs May had called the UK’s biggest developers to a Downing Street summit after pledging to "dedicate" her premiership to fixing the "broken" housing market. But such a move certainly won’t fix the community issue.

Indeed, the communities so longed for by Ms Doyle-Price no longer exist. No amount of ‘lessons’ from ethnic groups can change that,.

Old working communities – mining is one – have long since been broken up by the development of political, social and economic policies. And I seem to recall her party actively encouraging mobility of labour in the hunt for jobs. Social structures to support a default family care option for our loved-ones just don’t exist.

I don’t doubt ethnic groups do their share of ‘caring for grandma’, but the indigenous population should not be discounted.

Ms Doyle-Price’s premise also assumes we all have families that would contribute to a more caring society. I’d suggest a visit to a few care homes and perhaps then she’ll understand life in the real world of social care.

And finally . . . Mrs Thatcher: Didn’t she say there was no such thing a society?

There are, I know, cultures where the elderly are respected and not seen as a drain on society, but I can’t bring one to mind.