Having worked for the National Federation of Occupational Pensioners for close to two decades, I have become used to speaking to members who have been confused and distressed by the social care system. I suppose this is not surprising in itself – but what is bewildering is that in all this time, the system with all its complexity has not been improved. It is very worrying to recognise that there is an issue out there which appears repeatedly to be kicked into the political long grass – or even worse, ignored entirely – because the Government has not got the guts to do something about it because it costs money.
Back in 1995, a Health Select Committee reported that:
“There has been considerable media and public speculation about the “crisis” the country supposedly faces in paying for long-term care in the future. We believe that much of this speculation has been founded on unsound evidence, or indeed been downright alarmist, and that the problems the country faces in relation to long-term care, although real, are more manageable than many recent commentators have suggested.”
Clearly the powers that be at that time had their heads in the sand, as care and its funding continues to be a huge issue for the Government and the individual – and it will continually get worse until somebody grabs the mantle and changes things. If the problems “are more manageable” why was nothing done about it 16 years ago?
In 1999, the Sutherland Royal Commission stated that the long-term care system and its costs were a serious issue. And yet again, its warnings were never really taken on board. And now we have the newly-published Dilnot report, which recommends a cap on how much an individual pays for their care. Will this report finally make a difference?
As the General Secretary for N.F.O.P, I am determined that as an organisation we do all we can to campaign to keep the issue of long-term care and its funding high on the political agenda. Because if we fail, the existing system will leave thousands more pensioners distressed and impoverished.