First, though, for those who are like me supporting Greg Marshall’s campaign. If you don’t have time to go out canvassing and leafleting, there are two simple things you can do:
1. Have a garden stake or poster. The Conservatives have some very well-funded ones – the gargantuan one on Town Street wouldn’t get planning permission if normal rules applied! – and it’s very important to get a good spread of posters for Greg. If you’re happy to do this, please drop him a line, just with your name and address and whether you want a garden stake (and if it’s OK to set it up if you’re not at home when the helper calls) or a window poster. His email address is: email@example.com
2. Donate to the campaign. As usual, the Conservatives have a lopsided spending advantage and only personal donations traditionally enable us to level the playing field. To donate, please transfer to Broxtowe Labour Constituency bank account : Sort Code: 08-90-74 A/C No: 58020100 or send a cheque payable to Broxtowe CLP to Dawn Elliott, 27 Redland Drive, Beeston, Nottingham NG9 5JZ
Despite all the coverage of the proposals on social care, I’m finding that lots of people are confused about what is actually proposed by the Conservatives. There will be two main effects
First, the fuel allowance will become means-tested. In principle this seems fair – why should a millionaire get a fuel allowance? But there’s a reason why it’s not, specifically for older people. It will inevitably mean that lots of pensioners who are entitled to it won’t claim, either because they’re too embarrassed to say “I’m poor so I need the allowance” (even in our grasping society there are a lot of people like that) or because they don’t feel up to filling out the relevant forms. (We’ve seen exactly the same with free school meals for the poor.) When you stop making an allowance universal and make people fill out forms to get it, you penalise people who are either not pushy or no longer very capable. There’s also the more subtle point that when you take the allowance away from most people they tend to lose sympathy for giving it to anyone.
Second, the care proposals effectively help people moving into a care home (by allowing them to retain up to £100K instead of £23K) and punish people who stay in their own home and get care there (because they will now not be eligible for help if they own a house worth over £100K). The second group is far larger than the first – most of us will need a bit oi help when we get on, but only 1 in 6 will go into care – so the effect will be to nudge people into care homes – which is stupid, because it’s both nicer and FAR cheaper to be looked after in your own home. Because this is a large group, the net effect will be to save money – but at the expense of the vulnerable.
As in most cases now, people won’t need to sell their homes (both arrangements with the council and equity release plans can usually prevent that already), but they will be forced into debt, paid off through their estates.
The common factor here is a familiar one from when I was Broxtowe’s MP. The welfare net can work quite well if you really understand every wrinkle of the system and have an inexhaustible willingness to fill out forms, go to interviews and jump through hoops. People like me and many of you have little problem in this (nor, ironically do the small minority who rip the system off) – if I suddenly needed help tomorrow, I’d know exactly what to do. But people in trouble are often any or all of
• not very computer-literate or
• bad at putting their case in an interview.
The very elderly, in particular, often have really serious difficulty, especially if they are in mental decline (which is why critics are calling it a dementia tax).
The Government called the election ostensibly about Brexit. But they’re using it to seek a mandate for traditional Conservative preoccupations (from more school selection to bringing fox-hunting back). They aren’t bothering to say how they’ll pay for their programme, apart from warning that they may put your tax and NI up. They want a huge majority with a blank cheque. On June 8, you can help decide if they get it.