Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Britain is a country with a county called Oxfordshire, home for a wealthy Prime Minister but no place for disabled old men

Ian Felton is 70 and lives in Oxfordshire. A former firefighter, he was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis at the age of  50, is in a wheelchair and unable to walk after he broke his neck a few yeas ago. He was also diagnosed with prostate cancer that spread to his spine and lungs and although in remission, he relies on the help of his wife and care workers who visit each morning and evening to get him in and out of bed.

David Cameron is 48, he also lives in Oxfordshire where he is a Member of Parliament and Prime Minister of Great Britain. He enjoys good health and gets himself out of bed in the morning.

Last month, Oxfordshire County Council warned of the 'devastating impact on proposed additional funding cuts to services', placed upon it by David Cameron's Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne. In order to find further savings of £69m or 11.4% of its gross budget, adult social care for old men and women like Ian will be a big loser. Some £15.6m is due to be axed and support for 'carers', 'health and wellbeing centres' and 'bus subsidies' are all facing the chop.

David, a seriously wealthy man in his own right, also draws his annual salary of 142,500 as Prime Minister. Ian lives on his, and his wife's state pension and his firefighter's pension.

Oxfordshire's Council’s decision to dramatically increase Ian's care contribution, in order to make savings came as a hard blow to him : “I was given a reassessment in November, and at the time I was paying £250 a month. A letter came through in January, which said I was now required to contribute £320 a week for the same care, backdated to the date of the reassessment. I couldn’t believe it.”
He appealed against the decision to ask him to contribute more each week than he had been paying for a whole month’s care and the figure was revised down to £264 a week, which works out at £1,144 a month.

Ian's suggestion about cutting his care bill by staying in bed came to nought :  “I offered to spend two days in bed each week to save money, but apparently I can’t have part-time care. It’s all or nothing, So I would have to spend every day in bed to avoid costs.”

Ian does have one other thing in common with David, apart from the fact that they are both Oxfordshire residents : they don't have mortgages on their houses, only in Ian's case, because he has paid off his mortgage the Council upped his care bill. Even so, as he pointed out : “It’ll still take a massive chunk of my pension. I have to contribute to bills and food shopping too, which means virtually all of it will be gone.”

In addition to the screws being placed on disabled old men and women, eight council-run health and 'wellbeing centres', which provide activities and services for old people, will be closed. Voluntary sector day centres are also at risk as funding will be cut, saving the council £750,000 and while some may be able to survive using other funding streams, many will be forced to close.

Paul Cann, Chief Executive at 'Oxfordshire Age UK' and 'Action for Carers Oxfordshire' said : “The cuts are a real threat to people’s health and their life chances. We know there are many frail older people who are really isolated and the effect of losing that lifeline service in the middle of the week will be hugely damaging. Not getting people out and about is the worst thing you can do.” In addition, 'Stroke Services', 'Falls Prevention' and the recently launched 'Dementia Support Service' also face cuts. Paul said : “I recognise that Oxfordshire has been given an impossible funding settlement. David Cameron should be instructing his ministers to back off councils because we already know there’s a huge funding gap in adult social care.”

Britain, a sad country where disabled old men are forced to suggest staying in bed to cut costs to pay for the increased charges for their social care visits.

1 comment:

  1. What puzzles me is why people still vote Tory in the face of cases like this. Are they really that selfish? Or are they just victims of government misinformation?