Tuesday 16 February 2016

Rage, rage against the dying of the light -------- Tory cuts killed 27,000 elderly in 2015

The belief at the heart of the welfare state is that the measure of a society is how it cares for those in need. As a country becomes more affluent it can afford to spend more on those deprived of wealth and ensure that at the very least it's citizens are not deprived of adequate health care and that in their latter days they are well looked after. There is an unwritten contract between people and state that contributions made during your working life will ensure free healthcare for all with extra elements of care being available towards the end of your life. Without any plebiscite or consultation this current crop of privileged individuals that govern the country from Westminster have decided that the state should shrink, the future will be commercial rather than commonweal.

I have Dylan Thomas running through my head, the opening lines from Do not go gentle into that good night:

Do not go gentle into that good night,

Old age should burn and rave at close of day;

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

I was thinking that if you wait until old age before you start to rage against this government it will be too late. The light will fade much sooner than it ought. Reading this article in the Independent (the source being the HSJ) it would appear that government cuts are responsible for the rising death rates for those in their twilight years: Death rate in England and Wales rising at fastest pace for 50 years due to cuts to social services. Well we all sort of know that to be the case but it is important that we have definitive evidence or else those wiley Tories will wriggle and twist to avoid any blame or responsibility. The central point of the article is that the death rate has gone up and the only way to understand this is to factor in government cuts.

Professor Danny Dorling, from Oxford University and an adviser to Public Health England on older age life expectancy, said: “When we look at 2015, we are not just looking at one bad year. We have seen excessive mortality - especially among women - since 2012.”

"Death rates in England and Wales have been steadily falling since the 1970s but this trend has been reversed since 2011".

This is very worrying, not just the headline that the increase of "avoidable" deaths between 2014 and 2015 was 5.4% or 27,000; but that this will be compounded by cuts now working through the system and future cuts yet to make themselves felt. We can see the desperate measures that are being taken to minimise these effects in Derbyshire with the County Council targeting cuts on areas such as Surestart and support to bus services as they try to hold on to 18 out of the 23 old people's facilities, day care and home help.  As the Tories cut and cut again at local government finances it is the young, the elderly, the disadvantaged and isolated who pay the price.

Source: Daily Mail
I placed here a graphic I unashamedly lifted from the Daily Mail (well that paper must have some uses) because I know that Tories will defend their actions by claiming that we cannot afford to look after the elderly because of the bulge in population caused by the post war baby boom ........... yes we've all heard that one but can it be credible that in a country where there is an increase in the number of pensioners which will continue to increase for decades to come, that you therefore adopt a policy of cutting the money needed to care for this group. I can think of no logical argument where this could be deemed anything short of,  at best stupidity and at worst cruel and callous unconcern. The 43% cut in central government funding for district, county and metropolitan councils has seriously impacted on core services and there are more cuts on the way in this current parliament ......... up to 2020; the shortfall in local government funding by then reaching and annual £9.5 billion (close to £140 per head of population) . This is a massive switch in responsibility from central to local government which embodies a massive change in taxation, from income tax to council tax. This will hit the poor disproportionately hard as a greater percentage of their income is taken in direct taxation.

There is no doubt that this age profile will have changed quite markedly by the time of the next census in 2021.  The birth rate is falling because of the difficulties faced by our youngsters in forming relationships and family units; the inexorable drift to a low waged economy, being denied benefits below the age of 25 and cost of housing being root causes. The pressure on the working population with an increase of those living in poverty coupled with a growing problem of the over fifties displaced from work finding alternative employment. The babies born in the fifties boom are now beating on the doors of retirement and should expect that the institutions behind those doors and the promises made throughout their lifetime should still be in place. 

The following may prove to be of use here: England age profile graphic, click on this link and you will find a slider underneath the graphs that illustrate how the over 65 group will grow up to 2037 (goodness knows what will happen after then). On the right hand side, above the graph you can choose a district, say, Amber Valley or Derbyshire. Prepare to be worried.

Should I apologise for the use of the poem in this post? No ....... but it is now that we should rage, rage against the dying of the light; the dismantling of the welfare state. When you next meet a Tory I urge you to raise this issue and ask them why, when the need is increasing their Tory government decides that it is best to cut expenditure resulting in the loss of 27,000 untimely deaths. What will be the figure in 2016?

Further reading:

The effect on individuals is profound as was highlight in this recent article in the Guardian:

Care homes will close without government help as council budgets are starved 

You might also look at this:

This is the Local Government Association's answer to this crisis. It's obviously well intentioned but more like whistling in the dark than raging at the failing of the light.  It somehow ignores this interesting paper that they have produced: Future funding outlooks for councils 2019/20

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