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Westlake Legal Group > Older people

Chris Walker: Better housing for older people would also be good news for the NHS

Chris Walker is a former government economist and author of Healthier and Happier, a new report for Homes for Later Living

When politicians talk about housing policy, the focus is frequently on helping young people to get on the housing ladder. The current prime minister is no exception; in his first speech in the job, Boris Johnson spoke of “giving millions of young people the chance to own their own home”.

The focus on how the lack of supply is hitting young people is entirely understandable. Homes are now unaffordable for most millennials and nearly a million more 20-34-year-olds live at home than 20 years ago. The sense of the housing market not working for young people who quite naturally aspire to have a family-sized home of their own one day might explain the recent study by Onward which found the new ‘tipping point’ age at which voters are more likely to vote Conservative has risen to 51.

However, there is a danger in focusing solely on first-time buyers.  If the Tories fail to develop a strong offer for the many older people who want to carry on living independently but need housing which enables them to do so safely and enjoyably, they will miss the opportunity to both release older family-sized homes and realise significant health and social care savings as our population ages.

The scale of the problem is underlined in my new report for Homes for Later Living, which highlights that more older people are living alone in unsuitable housing where they are likely to suffer from falls, loneliness and dementia. It is envisaged that by 2032, the NHS could be overwhelmed by nearly a million extra older people suffering from falls-related injuries.

Supporting the case for more specialist retirement housing, my analysis shows that building 30,000 homes for later living every year for the next ten years could generate fiscal savings to the NHS and local authorities of at least £1.4 billion a year. This comes on top of the fiscal savings already being delivered by the existing homes for later living market, thought to be at least £750 million a year.

Just as importantly the report states that an average person aged 80 feels as good as someone 10 years younger in wellbeing terms after moving from mainstream housing to retirement housing. These benefits stem from the specialist design of retirement housing, be it apartments, bungalows or ‘extra care housing’, along with high levels of social interaction, varying levels of support and care, and large communal spaces.

With a General Election around the corner, Conservative strategists would do well to take note. Ever since the last election efforts have been under way to get older people back on side and rightly so. The Prime Minister has pledged that his plans to tackle the social care crisis will satisfy two criteria – namely that “nobody should be forced to sell their home and everybody should have dignity and security in old age”.  One of the ways that people can be helped to stay in their own home in later life is if we see a sustained focus on the delivery of more housing specifically designed for people’s changing needs as they get older.

According to the latest government forecasts, the number of people aged over 80 is set to rise from about 3.2 million today to five million in 2032. Building more homes for later living would help many older people to lead happier and healthier lives. It would also help to ease the social care crisis and boost the coffers of the NHS.  The question is: can the Conservatives really afford not to act?

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Jacob Rees-Mogg: Why I believe that the NHS should cover social care

Jacob-Rees Mogg is MP for North East Somerset.

A proposal to solve the social care issue was one of the reasons for the Conservatives’ dismal performance at the last election. There has long been a need to develop a system – but that it had such stark electoral consequences is a reminder of the sensitivity of any policy solutions, though bringing it forward it showed how serious the issue is.

The current system does not work. It is arbitrary. Families argue with the authorities as to what part of care is medical and what is social and diseases of old age, especially dementia, seem to be excluded, at least in part. This leaves some families with bills of tens of thousands of pounds each year, potentially for many years, while those with heart disease or cancer will see all the costs fall on the state. This principle of health provision free at the point of use is one of the main stays of the British welfare state. It provides security for all of us if certain types of illness hit, but leaves the failure to provide social care, that has crossed a narrow boundary from medical care, appear all the more unfair.

Not only is there an arbitrariness in the definition but the rules of who pays what are complex and problematic. Council budgets take the strain for social care but the NHS for medical, which leads to people spending too long in hospital. All the while, budgets are argued over and higher-cost hospital beds remain occupied by people who ought to be elsewhere – possibly, with a little support, even back in their own homes.

Once the bureaucracy has determined the fall of costs, the ways that these fall on individuals are equally complex. Quite rightly, an individual who shares a home will not normally be expected to see the value of the property taken into account. Yet, the frail, elderly parent who has been looked after by a child for ten years who then spends the last year of their life in a home could see the family property taken, whereas if the child had moved in it would not be. Complex charging rules inevitably lead to the system falling harshly on some and not on others, contributing to changes in behaviour.

It is, perhaps, easy to set out the problem but less so the solution. An ageing population and the growing complexities of care make the costs high and move from self-paying to government-paying increases demand. This is an iron law of economics – there is more demand for something that is free. So why is Warwick Lightfoot of Policy Exchange right to say that the state must take on this burden?

It is the role of the state to save and shelter us from the overwhelming problem. The cost of long-term social care is more than all but the super-rich can easily afford, and the risk of it falls indiscriminately. The majority of families will not be hit in this way, but some will be hit completely.

It is also a continuation of the NHS principle of care free at the point of use: any constituency MP will have helped constituents argue what proportion of care is NHS and free and what is social, so paid.

Additionally, the cost, though high, is affordable if it is a priority. Lightfoot’s paper suggests £11 billion, but there would be some savings from the NHS budget as beds are freed up, reducing the misallocation of resources. The ONS has recently revised up the nation’s GDP to £2.2 trillion so this is 0.5 per cent of national income, a significant but not disproportionate amount to provide for the needs of the most vulnerable elderly.

To prevent a spiralling of costs, it is important to keep an affordable element of co-payment: £5000 per year seems to strike the right balance. Families would still have an incentive to keep their elderly relations at home, avoiding the probably vast cost of all this care falling on the state. However, once this amount had been spent, the rest of the base cost would fall on taxpayers, although families would be free to buy extra services and the supply would continue to be from private operators as no one wants to go back to council-run nursing homes.

There are some things that ought to fall on central taxation, and it is anomalous that social care does not, especially when the individual cost is potentially ruinous. It has become a near 100 per cent wealth or inheritance tax that falls randomly on an unlucky few. It is, therefore, a risk that it makes sense to pool but, with no insurance available, it is an area where it is right and fair for the state to step in.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

George Freeman: Our new book. In which forty Tory MPs band together to help revive conservatism

George Freeman is the founder of the 2020 Conservatives Group, the Big Tent Ideas Festival and Chair of the Conservative Policy Forum. He is MP for Mid-Norfolk.

The Conservative Party is in a hole. We need to stop digging. And start thinking seriously about the real causes of the EU referendum result, the grievances it spoke to – and set out a plan to honour that referendum result by leaving the European Union and setting out a bold programme of domestic reforms.

The EU referendum was a massive vote to reject the political status quo and embrace radical, small c conservative reform. The 17.4 million Labour, Conservative and unaligned voters who voted Leave were voting for radical change. The genius of the Leave campaign was its call to “take back control”. It spoke powerfully to huge swathes of the country feeling marginalised by a potent mix of globalisation, post-Crash austerity, an influx of low paid labour from Eastern Europe, the decline of traditional market towns and high streets, fear of economic marginalisation from automation and the gig economy and a deepening despair at a sense of injustice at the gap between the “unaccountable elites” and the ordinary citizen.

Brexit spoke to – and has enshrined – the principle divide in Britain which is no longer between Left or Right, or North and South, but between those with comfortable lives and those on the margin.

This is hardly surprising. After eight years in office overseeing painful local public spending cuts, in the wake of the £700billon bank bailout, MPs expenses scandal and Blair’s dishonest Iraq war dossier which have entrenched a sense of Parliament dangerously detached from the people it serves, the Brexit referendum was a roar for reform. A number of us had been warning David Cameron and George Osborne it was coming.

Handled properly it could – and should – have been a catalyst for that most difficult of political challenges: renewal in office. But Cameron misjudged the mood and treated Leavers with contempt. Theresa May misjudged the mood as a mandate for a toxic combination of hardline anti-business UKIP rhetoric and bureaucratic Brexit bungling.

Now we choose a new leader in the teeth of a deepening public anger and pressure – whipped up by Farage and Banks – the Dick Dastardly and Mutley of British politics – to embrace the “kamikaze” approach of an anti-business No Deal Brexit.

Get this wrong, and we risk the destruction of the Conservative Party for a generation: losing our professional, business, metropolitan and liberal supporters to the Liberal Democrats, our Leave supporters to the Brexit Party and those who just want competence in office to stay at home in despair.

If we are to avoid gifting a broken Brexit Britain to Jeremy Corbyn, John Mcdonnell and Len McClusky, the next Conservative leader has to do three things:

  • Deliver an EU Withdrawal which a majority of moderate mainstream British voters in the centre ground can support
  • Embark on some bold domestic reforms to tackle the legitimate grievances which fuelled the Referendum vote
  • Restore some grip, vision, inspiration and unity to a divided country and Party.

The scale of the revolt against the status quo demands bold reform. Not the technocratic tinkering and endless self-congratulatory initiative-launching of Ministers looking busy on Instragram, but real reform.

This is a 1975, 1945, 1905 moment of profound disruption. The old order will be replaced by a new order. The only question is who will shape it? Can the Conservative Party make this a moment of bold and inspiring renewal in the same way that Mrs Thatcher and Keith Joseph did in 1975, Attlee, Churchill, Beveridge and Butler did in 1945, and Churchill and the Liberals did in 1905 to see of socialism by creating pensions and national insurance?

Too often, we forget that the great institutions we cherish as permanent were once mere ideas – whether the NHS, the BBC, the London Docklands, universal suffrage, the Right to Buy or the privatisation of the old state industries. They were bold ideas which reshaped a whole generation and quickly became permanent fixtures.

When was the last time any modern politician had an idea on the scale of any of these? We now face a genuine battle of ideas with a resurgent hard left and we need urgently to rediscover the power of political imagination.

So what would a bold programme of Conservative reform look like today? In our book Britain Beyond Brexit: a New Conservative Vision for a New Generation, published today by the Centre for Policy Studies, I and forty MPs from all sides of the party – Leave and Remain, North and South, left and right, urban and rural – have set out a collection of pieces to frame that programme.

Our book sets out a range of policy proposals across six defining themes we believe must be at the centre of a coherent and compelling narrative for the New Conservatism: identity, opportunity, enterprise, social justice, security and citizenship.

Of course, many may ask: is the Conservative Party capable of that task, amid the seemingly endless and deepening divisions of the Brexit civil war?

The successes and failures of a post-Brexit new conservatism will be based on understanding the profound societal, economic and technological changes coming at us. Not how we return to the old dividing lines of the 1980s or 1950s, but how we address the profound challenges of our age: issues such as globalisation, digitalisation, genetic engineering, sustainable development, religious extremism and the traumatic rupture of the crash and its legacy on our public finances.

We have got to be brave enough to tackle the big issues of the day. Low and fragile growth. A fragmented health and care system. Structural deficit. Intergenerational unfairness. Deepening anxiety, disillusionment and despair. Rising pressure on weary public servants in creaking public services. Stubborn ghettos of low aspiration and deprivation. Housing unaffordability, homelessness and small town decline. Sluggish infrastructure. Bad planning.

For our elderly – and the families and community of carers who look after them, we need a fair system of funding and providing elderly care. For the young, the urgent priority is addressing housing and the wider issue of economic disenfranchisement. Put simply, we’ve built an economy where the principal mechanism for building economic security – owning a home – is getting beyond the reach of all but the most privileged. Is it any wonder that a whole generation of millennial voters – with little or no chance of acquiring a house or any capital – are seduced by the rhetoric of anti-capitalism?

We face a genuinely historic challenge: are we going to make Brexit a moment of catalytic renewal of conservatism and our nation? Or a moment of annihilation by a new alignment of a new generation of voters?

To avoid a decade of decline in a post-Brexit Britain run by Corbyn, we urgently need a new conservatism for a new generation.

I hope our book will help light the way.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Bob Seely: Saving Britain billions. Ideas for the contenders in this leadership contest.

Bob Seely is a member of the Foreign Affairs Select Committee, and is MP for the Isle of Wight.

Throughout this coming week, the candidates for the Conservative Party leadership launch their campaigns in earnest.

Whoever wins faces a massive challenge. Not only do we have to deliver Brexit – and until we do Britons won’t listen to us on anything else – but we also need to introduce a raft of domestic and foreign policies to renew us in office.

We badly need new ideas and new projects , some of which will need new cash. We also need to cut taxes. To help with the coming battle for ideas, and to support Liz Truss’ work on the spending review, here below are ideas to save between £50-100 billion. That figure doesn’t include the £39bn from a nodeal Brexit.

– – –

First, some basic facts. Government spending made up 38.5 per cent of GDP in 2017-2018. Departmental budgets set by spending review (DEL) amounted to £358.4 billion in 2017-2018, but the total departmental expenditure, including spending which is difficult to predict, manage or forecast (AME) was £812.9 billion in 2017-2018. Of that, £734.9bn was spent on services.

So where could we save money?

High speed rail

First, scrap the planned High Speed Rail link – HS2 – and save £50-100 billion. HS2 initially cost £33.4 billion, then rose to £42.6 billionIt is now costed at £56 billion. One government-commissioned estimate suggests it could total a breath-taking £403 million per mile. The Institute of Economic Affairs estimates the real cost to be £80 billion, and even that may be too little.

Terry Morgan, former chair of HS2 Ltd, told the Lords “everybody has their own guesstimate” of cost and “nobody knows, actually, the number”. Doug Thornton, HS2’s former Land and Property Director, has said the valuation of properties along the route was “enormously wrong”The National Audit Office found that the estimated net cost to acquire land and property for Phase One was £1,120 million in 2012 (2011 prices) ,but £4,316 million was budgeted at the 2015 spending review (2015 prices). Every honest review has considered it bad return for the taxpayer. The Lords’ respected Economic Affairs Committee has suggested delaying HS2. Let’s bite the bullet and bin this white elephant.

As with all the ideas here, the money could be better used by giving it back to taxpayers in the form of tax cuts, or supporting local and regional infrastructure projects to counter London’s domination of infrastructure spending, or to right the injustice faced by female pensioners – the so-called WASPI women. Alternatively, the next Conservative Government could pledge to ensure fibretopremises broadband nationwide to deliver near unlimited broadband speeds.

The farce of HS2 highlights a wider issue; UK public projects cost much more than in other countries – construction cost per mile of HS2 maybe as much as nine times that of its French equivalentMegaprojects run over-budget and over-time – time after time.

Cost overruns for the Channel Tunnel were 80 percent and for the National Health Service IT System up to 700 percent. The Scottish Parliament was estimated to cost between £10 and £40 million. It cost £414 million and was delivered three years late. An excellent study by the Taxpayers Alliance found that 57 per cent of over 300 public schemes overran by an average of 33.7 per centAnother study in 2009 found total net overrun on 240 projects was more than £19 billion. Even by Government standards, these are eye-watering sums. Running public projects to time and budget would allow us to slash taxes and still leave billions for education, policing or defence.

Overseas aid

Second, reallocate the 0.7 percent legally defined amount that the UK needs to spend on overseas aid. Many traditional Labour and Conservative voters alike are losing faith with this figure.

Why? Because we now spend more on overseas aid than we do on policing. To keep public support for overseas aid, which is important, and to integrate our overseas policy, we need to change the definition of aid to give us more flexibility in how we spend, as I outlined in a Henry Jackson Society study six months ago.

We should continue and even increase the basic lifesaving and humanitarian development aid that we are rightly proud of. But there are other elements of the £14.5 billion aid bill that we can re-allocate to provide much-needed support to the Foreign & Commonwealth Office(FCO), Ministry of Defence (MoD) and Department for International Trade (DIT). The DfID money should fund:

  • The BBC World Service TV and Radio, tasking it with becoming the global broadcaster of integrity to counter the propaganda output of authoritarian states such as Russia and China.
  • Minstry of Defence peacekeeping operation.
  • Some of the Department of International Trade’s work, especially where that trade represents a moral as well as economic good, such as providing new and greener technologies for developing nations.

Whilst the above doesn’t offer money back to the Treasury, ieffectively gives a spending boost of £85 million to the FCO, £269 million to our Armed Forces and tens of millions to our trade missionswithout having to raise taxes or borrowing. In addition, £254 million for the World Service that comes from the licence fee can be returned to taxpayers or reinvested in the service.

Health and social care

Third, integrate health and social care with local government. This has a potential for big efficiency savings, allowing money to frontline services rather than bureaucracy.

Attempts to make this idea work so far have floundered. The Better Care Fund was intended to save £511 million for departments and partners in the first year. It failedNevertheless, the idea is a valid, one and the council in my constituency of the Isle of Wight is hoping to win Government support to set up a pilot scheme.

In an increasingly complex world integration, be it in overseasspending, or public servicesintegration is key to efficiency and delivery. Artificial Intelligence, tele-medicine and better use of big data will support this, especially in more isolated communities such as the Island.

Cut corporation tax

Fourth, cut tax to raise more in revenue. The principle is a sound one – we cut top rate tax in the 1980s and dramatically increased the tax take.

Slash rates of corporation tax to 12.5 per cent.  Britain has been willing to give the fiscal firepower to “pull every lever we’ve got” a no-deal BrexitDown from 28 per cent in 2008, Corporation tax will soon be set at 17 per cent, the lowest in the G20 – yet receipts have never been higher at £56.2 billion. Lower corporation tax would increase the demand for labour, which in turn raises wages and increases consumption.

Winter fuel payments

Fitth, there are more difficult areas to cover. For example means test winter fuel payments would not be popular but could save £2 billion a year. Despite being estimated to cost £1,967 million in 2018/19, these were described by the Work and Pensions Committee (114.) as a “blunt instrument” which “gives a cash payment to many households do not need it”.

According to the Social Market Foundation, pensioners, who are by far the wealthiest age group in society, “are likely to save rather than spend the value of the windfall. It asked: “Why should older, wealthier pensioners receive more money than poorer, younger ones?”

An estimate for 2012-13 stated if payments were only made to those in receipt of pension credit, expenditure would only be £600 million in 2012-13 (to nearest £100 million). Surely it is better to spend the money on increasing the basic state pension, or increasing the amount that poorer pensioners receive, than giving it to those need is less.

Street and motorway lighting

Next, there are smaller but no less valuable schemes that we could champion. For example, do we need to keep streetlighting on overnight in rural areasThere’s no link between having lights off or dimmed and an increase in crime. Do motorways lights have to be on throughout the night? On the Isle of Wightwe can vary our lighting from a central point. That has the potential to save tens or hundreds of thousands of pounds per annum.

Roadside verges

Next, why don’t we cut roadside verges less. They represent a natural habitat for wildlife, but often the way they are cut today during flowering season kills wildflowers and replaces them with thick grass which need more cutting. There are parts of verges, in roundabouts, on curves, which will need very regular cutting, but if we adopted verge cutting to encourage wildflowers and pollinators such as bees, we would beautify roadsides AND save moneyDorset saved £93,000 by ‘greening’ their verge cutting, and Monmouthshire County Council estimates it has saved £35,000 annually from reducing verge mowing. For councils’ up and down the country, every little helps, especially if it has an environmental and quality of life benefit.

Legalising cannabis

Sixth, there are other potential tax streams which have not been examined. Should we examine legalising cannabis, for example, especially weaker strains of it, not only to raise tax but also for reasons linked to mental health and crime reduction.

Colorado, with a population of under six million, raised $247 million in 2017 alone from marijuana tax. One of the most comprehensive studies into legalisation estimates that between £397 million and £871 millio, could be raised annually. A US-style system here could generate up to £2.26 billion a year from tax and fees.

n addition, there is money saved. The Taxpayers Alliance estimates that by legalising cannabis, the UK could save at least £891.7 million a year in reduced spending by police, prisons, courts and the NHS through pain relief treatments. Do we need a Royal Commission on this subject? Should we be treating cannabis, especially in mild form, as yet another sin tax, like smoking and alcohol?

Doing things better

Seventh, we need to do simple things better. There are more prosaic aspects of best practice, such as procurement.

Procurement amounts to around one third of public spending in the UK. In 2016/2017, the UK public sector spent an estimated £355 billion with external suppliers. Efficiencies, such as buying common goods and services on behalf of the whole government, saved £255 million through the Crown Commercial Service and £879 million through specialist commercial expertise.

We need a systematic method of driving procurement best practise across all of Government, from paperclips to tanks, and supporting new, smaller entrants into a market dominated by bigger players who too often bid, take their cut and sub-contract.

Finally, by leaving the EU we will have more power over procurement, buying locally as far as free markets allow. Some organisations believe that EU regulation costs the UK as much as £33.3 billion per year, potentially moreBy taking a common sense attitude to regulation post Brexit, we could save Britain billions.

– – –

These ideas are just a start. Ensuring a Conservative Government after the next General Election requires two things. First, we must deliver on Brexit, second, we need to produce ideas and policies that renew in office.

This is a contribution to the debate. Let’s see what the candidates offer in the week ahead. I wish them well.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

James Frayne: What polling does and doesn’t tell us about voters and the environment

James Frayne is Director of Public First and author of Meet the People, a guide to moving public opinion.

Conservative Party politicians are prone to temporary policy cause obsessions. Over the last decade or so, we’ve seen them obsess briefly about, amongst other issues: free schools, the gender pay gap, social media, childcare, foreign aid and housing. (To list them like this is not to dismiss their relevance).

The enthusiasm which they responded to Greta Thunberg’s visit to the UK, their timidity in the face of Extinction Rebellion’s direct action, and their unwillingness, as Natascha Engel described in her resignation as Shale Commissioner, to seriously promote Shale Gas extraction in England, strongly suggests they’re about to become obsessed with policy development on climate change. If so, what does this mean for the Party electorally? What do the polls say about the environment as an issue?

Let’s look at how seriously people take the issue overall.

YouGov’s most recent headline tracker of the public’s top issues puts the environment reasonably low down the list, behind leaving the EU, crime, health, the economy and immigration, but above housing, education, welfare and defence. While it’s still something of a niche issue overall, many will be surprised that it is even this high and, crucially, the issue has risen slowly but consistently over the last couple of years.

A poll for “Stop Climate Chaos” in Scotland also suggested, in a not-perfect exercise, that many people have become more concerned about climate change in recent times. So it’s an issue that’s on the up. (Incidentally, only a tiny number of people had heard, in early March, about “The Green New Deal”, inspired by US environmental activists. Also, incidentally, British adults put “pollution, the environment and climate change” much lower down their list of priorities than adults in other European countries).

But, predictably, the headline numbers mask huge differences of opinion based on politics, class and age. Hanbury Strategy’s recent poll for Onward showed that 18-24 year olds put the environment third in their list of policy priorities, behind Britain leaving the EU and health; on the other hand, over 65s put the environment near the bottom of their list, just above transport and defence. The poll also showed that Conservative voters were much less likely to name the environment as a major issue.

In a separate question in the same report, voters were asked if they would prefer that society or Government focused either on economic growth or prioritising the environment. This question forces too stark a choice in people’s minds, but the gaps between groups’ answers are interesting. Overall, voters narrowly said, by 51 per cent to 49 per cent, economic growth. However, 18-24 year olds chose the environment by 62 per cent to 38 per cent, while over 65s chose the economy by 64 per cent to 36 per cent.

Conservatives chose the economy by a significant margin, while Labour voters chose the environment by a similarly clear margin. (Another incidental finding, which builds this age point out further: a YouGov poll showed that a fifth of the population believe “the threat of climate change is over-exaggerated”. While nine per cent of 18-24 year olds agree with this statement, 32 pe cent of over 55’s agree).

That such differences between ages exist will not come as a surprise to anyone, but we should be wary, on the existing evidence, of either claiming that young people are obsessed about the environment, or that older people are dismissive of it – and careful about recommending very clear actions for campaign strategy.

After all, we haven’t yet seen young people’s commitment to tackling climate change through regulation tested by an economic downturn. After the financial crisis, Ipsos-Mori’s tracker showed that public interest in the environment tailed away significantly (although to be fair, I can’t find a breakdown of younger voters’ attitudes), in much the same way we’re seeing the reputation of “big business” rebound in the aftermath of the EU referendum as voters’ minds are focused on the prospect of large employers leaving Britain. Would things change in the same way if jobs were threatened now? It’s hard to say – but some Conservatives are making a huge leap of faith that young voters have fully embraced green activism.

As for older voters, the evidence suggests that older voters might draw a distinction between different types of environmental issues – taking climate change less seriously than what you might call “the local physical environment”. For example, almost all over 65s say they would support “a law to significantly reduce plastic waste and pollution within 25 years” – a higher figure than 18-24 year olds. And a similarly high number of older people say they view tackling litter as more of a priority than they used to.

My strong impression is also that older voters are also more likely to volunteer that they are concerned about issues surrounding food safety and animal welfare and protecting areas of natural beauty – although this is an impression borne of many years moderating focus groups rather than on any hard data. In a sense, this is the environmentalism that Michael Gove has been pushing from Defra.

What does all this mean? Honestly, I don’t think there’s even nearly enough research data out there to make serious conclusions as to how the electorate will react to the Conservatives embracing the green agenda more seriously. Far more needs to be done. Most will likely support Gove’s Defra reforms. While it is certainly reasonable to suggest that younger voters care more about climate change, there are clearly dangers in jumping into this debate by accepting the terms set out by green activists – who essentially argue that we can only protect the environment by slowing growth and insisting on massive personal austerity. Such a move will irritate the bulk of electorate and likely a massive chunk of younger voters too.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Alex Morton: We urgently need to fix the social care crisis

Alex Morton is Head of Policy at the Centre for Policy Studies.

It is hardly news that the most controversial part of the 2017 Conservative manifesto was its proposals on social care. Indeed, they virtually destroyed the entire Conservative election campaign.

But at the same time, we can’t simply put social care in a box labelled “too difficult” and leave it there to fester. The current system is not sustainable – and will become still less so as demographic pressures mount.

There are two major tests that any social care reform needs to pass. The first is that, while we have to ensure that all those who need it receive good care, we should not penalise those who work hard and save. Whatever system we adopt, we need to avoid the “dementia lottery” – and people being forced to sell the homes they have worked all their lives to own and pass on, in order to fund their care.

But there is another test, which is barely even talked about. The current system of funding massively disincentivises the construction of much-needed social care facilities and retirement housing – because the councils that pay for social care see the elderly as a burden on their resources. That, too, needs to change.

Today, the Centre for Policy Studies launches a report by Damian Green MP, Fixing the Care Crisis. We believe it is hugely important contribution to this debate, setting out a way forward that can command genuine consensus.

The essence of the proposal is that social care should copy the state pension, a model that is both sustainable and universally accepted. Everyone gets a decent level of support, but this is topped up with private funding, as people do with their pensions.

Obviously, to relieve the cost pressures on Government you might suggest that people should pay for their own care full stop – but given that 80 per cent of people think social care should be funded by the state, we believe this is a compromise on which everyone can agree.

Green’s model proposes creating a Universal Care Entitlement, a national level of good care that everyone who needs it would receive. This could then be topped up by a Care Supplement for those who want extra, more expensive top-ups. After all, as his report notes, some people prefer care homes with top of the range gyms and bistro bars – it is not the job of the state to pay for these for all!

We envisage the Care Supplement being supported by an insurance system, which could bring in very large sums each year – we estimate £4 billion to £13 billion – since most people will want both better facilities and the peace of mind of ensuring that their family can still inherit most of their assets, especially their homes.

This ends the unfairness of the current system, without creating an unaffordable system where the Government ends up paying for “care elements” which are essentially luxuries. The Universal Care Entitlement does require an injection of government money – we believe around £2.5 billion a year – but we also offer suggestions on how this could be funded.

Under this system, if you pay in more, you get out more – but everyone has a good level of care.

It’s not just about demand, but supply

But there’s another issue that the paper addresses – one which is very rarely talked about, but is utterly vital.

We all know that a big problem with the current model of social care is the massive knock-on effect that it has on the NHS. This new structure would help fix that. But we don’t talk nearly as much about the interaction between social care and the housing market.

Because councils currently worry about attracting older people to their area, they are not keen to build new care homes or provide new retirement housing. This then hits their local NHS – to the tune of at least £1 billion a year in delayed transfers out of hospitals alone.

In the 1980s, when social care was essentially provided nationally, care provision grew by 84 per cent. But once responsibility for funding was transferred to the local level, care home provision basically stagnated – even as the number of older people has steadily grown.

There has also been a fall in social care productivity of around 20 per cent since 2000 – which is equivalent to £3.4 billion a year in higher costs – of which the Government bears nearly £2 billion a year (equivalent to a 25 per cent share of their spending on social care for older people). There is serious evidence most care homes are too small for modern needs, and unable to modernise, but because of the issue around provision, we are trapped in a system where new facilities are not approved.

It’s not just about care homes, but retirement housing. In the UK, this makes up around 0.6 per cent of all homes. This is a fraction of what other similar countries like Australia and the USA achieve – around one-tenth in fact.

When I worked in Number Ten, some council leaders would quietly admit, embarrassed, that they avoided meeting their ageing population’s needs, because they worried that new facilities would draw in older people and this could blow a hole in their budgets.

But the cost of this is high – a year spent in a retirement home saves, on average, £3,500 per person, per year. And the lack of retirement housing means that people have to go from an unsuitable home into a very expensive care home setting rather than a more suitable retirement home with independence, which they prefer and costs less – so everyone loses!

If we built the retirement homes we need, it could save over £1 billion a year within a decade. It also helps fix the housing crisis, by ensuring that more people are moving out of larger homes they no longer need, which growing families can then move into.

By changing the structure of the system from locally funded to nationally, we can encourage councils to draw up proper social care plans, and build the retirement homes we need, without fearing this will destroy their finances. Today’s report proposes to do this by requiring councils to have a target for older person housing and a use class for retirement housing, as well as coordinating social care needs.

The time for this is now

All too often, the “solutions” offered in social care are just asking people to stump up more money without fixing the system or thinking about what is fair. What is needed is a holistic, fair, and politically workable solution.

We think this report’s solutions are something there could be a cross-party solution acceptance of, just as there is a cross-party acceptance for the current pension model.

Each year, the social care crisis becomes more acute and the costs mount to society and individuals. The imminent Green Paper has been kicked down the road over and over again – but in Fixing the Care Crisis there is a potential solution that can put the system right.

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Emma Little-Pengelly: The Government should protect free TV licences for over-75s

Emma Little-Pengelly is the Democratic Unionist MP for Belfast South.

I am proud to be a member of a party, the DUP, which has always stood shoulder to shoulder with our older population.

Our strong track record is reflected in our commitments at the last general election to support the continuation both of the ‘triple lock’ on pensions, and of universal benefits such as the Winter Fuel Allowance – when some others were calling them into question.

These benefits continue across the UK only through our intervention, and are enshrined in the confidence and supply agreement we have with the Conservative Party.

Today the future of another such benefit, concessionary TV licences for the over 75s, is in doubt. This is because during the BBC Charter Renewal negotiations in 2015 the BBC took on full responsibility for these concessionary licences from 2020. Government funding towards the estimated £745 million annual cost has been tapering away, and ends completely next year.

My party supports freezing and then cutting or ending the licence fee altogether, because it’s a highly regressive ‘tax’ that belongs to a world of communications that increasingly no longer exists. It is surely a matter of when, not if, the licence fee goes in favour of a different approach.

But the fact that the BBC licence fee is outmoded is no reason to take away free licences from the oldest now – before the discussion about what replaces it has even got properly underway. Indeed, removing the concession would punish many of the BBC’s most loyal viewers and listeners, particularly the poorest and oldest, many of whom would find it hard or impossible to pay.

For the over-75s, their television is often a great source of comfort and companionship, especially if widowed and living alone, disabled or unwell, as many are by this stage in life. I certainly see this among my own older constituents in South Belfast, most of all those on a low fixed income and budgeting carefully to pay their bills – which they tell me always seem to be going up.

They are usually not on the internet, let alone Netflix subscribers. Their media habits continue to centre on television – usually terrestrial – and AM and FM radio. Many of them have few other pleasures in life and I think politicians should think very carefully before taking any action that could make life worse for them, which abolishing their free TV licence certainly would.

In a fast-changing and uncertain world, my Party believes older people need our support more than ever, and that’s why we support the continuation of free TV licences for all over-75s.

Some people have however argued that we should use this as an opportunity to means-test the licence fee. In theory, this sounds like an ideal solution, but in reality it would be expensive to administer, would provide no help for those living just above the line, and many of the poorest would miss out – just as they do on pension credit – because of the complexities and stigma associated with claiming means-testing benefits.

It is also a sad reality that, despite interventions and protections put in place, the numbers of pensioners living in poverty have begun to rise again.  We also know that many older people are cash-poor, with their assets tied up such as in their house and home.

For the DUP, there are three consequences to the backroom arrangement made in 2015 between the Government and the BBC, that are all equally unacceptable:

1) Whether they keep it, scrap it, or amend the current funding formula, the BBC would be deciding and implementing social policy. This is not the BBC’s job, and what confidence would any of us have that they would perform it well? The BBC has no experience of this, nor are there the right levels of scrutiny or accountability for their decisions or reasoning.

2) I have considerable sympathy for those who are raising concern that older people are inappropriately stuck in the middle of a debate between the Corporation and policymakers about the BBC’s long-term funding future. This conversation definitely needs to happen, but surely we should keep vulnerable older people out of it.

3) This process puts other universal benefits for older people under threat because, like it or not, it sets a precedent. If this or any other government wishes to make changes to pensioner entitlements they are well within their rights to do so, but it should be done openly. It must be debated and scrutinised in the appropriate way, with clear democratic accountability.

They should also know that we in the DUP will continue to stand up for older people if this happens. But at least the process will be transparent. I believe we owe this to older people.

For all these reasons we believe action must be taken now to prevent the removal of this concession and we strongly urge the Government to step in and ensure this happens. It would mean so much to the older people in my constituency who have raised their worries and sadness with me, as I am sure it would also to hundreds of thousands of others across the UK.

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David Willetts: There are ways for Conservatives to win over younger voters – but they aren’t easy

Lord Willetts is Executive Chair of the Resolution Foundation. He is a former Minister for Universities and Science.

The big challenge facing British politics today is obviously Brexit. But in some ways, the main parties, and especially the Conservative Party, face an even bigger political challenge – bridging Britain’s age divide. This issue, which I wrote about a decade ago in my book The Pinch, has risen to the fore again thanks to an excellent report published yesterday by the think-tank Onward.

Onward show that age rather than class is now the best predictor of voting intention. Labour had a 29 per cent lead among 25-34 year olds in the 2017 election and Conservatives had a 36 per cent lead among over-65s. There are a host of other factors which might lie behind this age gap – older people are less ethnically diverse, less likely to live in cites, less likely to have a degree. But even after allowing for such effects there is a still a fundamental age gap in voting.

This need not itself be a problem for the Conservatives (the focus of Onward’s work). If young people vote Labour and, as they go through the life cycle, older people vote Tory then as the population ages there might even be an electoral gain for a party appealing to older voters. But this depends on voters turning Conservative as they grow older. And that is not happening.

Instead, the Conservative Party is retreating towards a cohort of ever older voters. The “tipping-point age” at which a voter is more likely to be Conservative than Labour used to be 34. It went up to 47 at the 2017 General Election and is now 51 years old. So voting Tory is not just a life cycle effect: instead a cohort of older Tories is gradually being replaced by succeeding cohorts who are more inclined to Labour. That is the existential threat which Onward urge Conservatives to face.

“Younger voters” are obviously not a homogenous group, and neither are their voting intentions. Many of them are in the middle of British politics – slightly “left” on economic and welfare issues, and slightly “right” on cultural and national issues. But that is not, of course, where the Conservative Party is seen to be.

There are some things that both parties should prioritise to win young people over. Helping them get started on the housing ladder is crucial. And that means building more homes in the places where they want to live.

The Onward polling suggests some other things young people want – more conditionality in immigration, to reduce the gap between rich and poor, more technical education and backing for people on average wages.

Many Conservatives will be encouraged by younger voters’ desire to keep their own money, rather than increasing tax, and to make public services more efficient, rather than spend more on them. Rather less encouragingly, this may reflect younger voters getting a pretty raw deal from the welfare state in recent years, as it is increasingly focussed on older people. Working age benefits have now entered their fourth year of a cash freeze, while state pensions increase under the triple lock. Just imagine the politics of treating benefits for pensioners the same way as benefits for working age families. And the NHS is mainly used by the over-60s.

This all suggests a rather acute dilemma for Conservatives – with even tougher choices than those set out in the report. After all, Onward’s polling shows that 70 per cent of voters believe that Britain needs a ‘radical change of direction’.

Older voters are the heaviest users of public services and the welfare state is increasingly for them. The areas where there are concentrations of older voters now shifting to Conservatives are heavily dependent on public services. This demographic shift is expensive, too. An ageing population and rising healthcare costs mean that the cost of maintaining the current welfare state will rise by £36 billion a year by 2030. Someone has to pay for this greying state.

What is the right way to meet this demographic challenge? Should we cut back public services to satisfy younger voters’ desire for taxes to be held down? But then core Tory voters are losing out. Or should we levy higher taxes on the working age population to pay for increased public spending on older voters? That cuts across the views of the younger voters that the Party needs to win over. And finding an extra £36 billion a year through income tax alone would require a huge increase in headline rates that no party would countenance.

There is of course another way to square this circle. What if older people were themselves expected to make more of a contribution to the public services they use? This could be done by reforming council tax so that high-value properties pay more, or expecting wealthy pensioners to make more of a contribution to the costs of social care. That is the dilemma which the Conservative Party’s 2017 election manifesto tried to confront. It may have been handled ineptly, but the underlying dilemma has not gone away.

That is where the debate is heading, whichever party is in power over the next decade. Choosing which public services you want to maintain, or what to tax more – income or capital – will be the real test of Britain’s age divide.

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James Kanagasooriam: The left-right age gap is even worse for the Conservatives than you think

Westlake Legal Group james-kanagasooriam-the-left-right-age-gap-is-even-worse-for-the-conservatives-than-you-think James Kanagasooriam: The left-right age gap is even worse for the Conservatives than you think Young People Tax Polling Pensioners Opinion Polls Onward Older people jobs Highlights EU Referendum environment demographics Conservative strategy Comment Campaigning

James Kanagasooriam is an advisory board member of Onward and a strategy consultant at OC&C. Between 2014-2018, he was Head of Analytics for Populus, where he and his team utilised data science techniques to optimise political campaigning. Their efforts contributed to Ruth Davidson’s Scottish Conservatives’ successful 2017 Election.

It might not feel like it this week, but the Conservatives’ problem with younger voters is a bigger problem for them than Brexit. This morning, Onward publishes a big new report on the age gap in British politics – now the most important indicator of vote intention. The stark reality in the data is that the Conservative Party’s age curve is not only extreme – you now need to be 51 years old before you become more likely to vote Conservative than Labour – but worse than the age curve for Leave. This is often missed because support for Leave is higher amongst older voters than voting Conservative.

You don’t get any prizes for knowing that young Britain is skewed considerably towards Remain and Labour. One of the more distasteful arguments put about in the media about Leavers is that they are facing a natural demographic decline – just last week a young commentator on a BBC panel said that delivering on the “will of the people” now meant delivering on the “will of dead people”. But the Conservative age curve is much, much worse – and spells steady decline for the Party in the long-run unless something is done at pace.

The Conservative curve gets steeper the older you are – right up until very old age. The difference in voting intention between people in their 40s and 30s is smaller than the difference between people in their 50s and 40s. This differs from Leave, which arcs over middle age – as set out below. There are huge numbers of middle age voters who were willing to vote for Leave but are not currently willing to vote Conservative. That is a problem for the Tories.

Figure 1: Observing the problem – disaggregating the Leave issues from the Tory one

Westlake Legal Group Slide1-1-1024x709 James Kanagasooriam: The left-right age gap is even worse for the Conservatives than you think Young People Tax Polling Pensioners Opinion Polls Onward Older people jobs Highlights EU Referendum environment demographics Conservative strategy Comment Campaigning

Why is this? It is because the Leave divide is primarily an educational gap, not an age gap. When you mathematically adjust for education, ethnicity, social and economic worldviews and housing tenure, the difference in Leave and mean voting behaviours by age is almost entirely explained. But when you do the same for the Conservatives, we find a significant chunk of the difference unexplained at the demographic top and bottom of the electorate as set out below.

If we look at the maths, we see something powerful at play. The Conservative vote is crumbling faster than the Leave vote over time. In effect, the Conservatives are about to lose a group of older voters who are more likely than they should be to vote Conservative – once we have factored in everything we know influences voting behaviour – which will be replaced by a group of voters who are much more likely than they should be, controlling for every conceivable factor, to vote Labour. In politics, cohorts matter and the next one could kill the idea of a Conservative majority.

Figure 2: The bow tie of doom: actual versus statistically inferred Conservative age curve

Westlake Legal Group Slide2-1-1024x709 James Kanagasooriam: The left-right age gap is even worse for the Conservatives than you think Young People Tax Polling Pensioners Opinion Polls Onward Older people jobs Highlights EU Referendum environment demographics Conservative strategy Comment Campaigning

This flies in the face of most Conservative strategists’ thinking. Currently the Party is relying on the idea that if we a) build more houses b) build a vision of Britain that creates prosperous high paying jobs and is spread outside city centres c) provide people with the skills and retaining capabilities for a flexible and changing job market without expelling them from their hometowns, networks and families, then they will necessarily vote Tory. We will be able to create more Conservative voters through good government, as we have done in the past – or so the story goes.

Here’s the problem: people aren’t equations. They are social animals they take their cues from the people around them. They practice what I call “empathic voting”: their political actions are influenced by their generation and the times they live through. The political contract is not such that if Governments pull certain policy levers and create certain conditions voters respond in kind. Leaders matter, external moments matter. Brand matters. The liberal consensus of the late 1990s and 2000s didn’t come out of nowhere – it stemmed from a generation of leaders who grew up in the shadow of the Berlin Wall. They thought Fukuyama was right and they governed accordingly. Today no voter under the age of 40 has had a similar formative experience. First time voters at the last election were not even politically conscious when British capitalism was last deemed to be in good health. This is why – crudely – the older postie votes Tory and the younger investment banker votes Labour; each are voting – to a degree – in empathy with their own generational cohort.

The converging trends above are what I term the “bow tie of doom” – a possible cohort effect in different generations’ voting behaviour. A generation of younger people which – controlling for everything about them, including their views, where they live, their ethnicity, their income – are less Conservative than they should be, sitting alongside a cohort of older voters of whom many tick the Conservative box when they are not really Conservative in any meaningful, demographic or philosophical way. The Party might benefit from a political premium right now but it is unrooted in anything except time – and the clock is ticking.

There is a lack of longitudinal data to fully validate this cohort thesis, but the Onward data, a detailed snapshot, gives us a clear indication that we are not making conditions ripe for conservatism – and even if we were, it wouldn’t be enough. In fact, we are creating battalions of anti-Tory shock troops – disheartened by austerity, uninitiated in prosperity, alienated by the Conservative brand. If every generation has a centre of gravity in its voting patterns, today’s is far away from the current Conservative Party.

We need to learn the right lessons now. The solution is threefold. First, the Conservatives need to radically rethink what they stand for. It can’t be everything – we should pick five things and double down on them again and again until we are blue in the face. This is hard in Government – you are by default responsible for everything – but ruthless clarity and urgency of purpose are essential if we are to cut through. Mass movements spring from evocative narrow issues, not from broad manifestos.

Second we need to completely retool our polling and data operation. Right now, CCHQ’s operation is limited in both breadth and depth. They know a little about a few things: they need to know a lot more and bring in the best brains to drive it. Good businesses start with their customers and repeatedly refine the proposition until they get product-market fit. They don’t start with the product and then try and find an appropriate market.

Third, we need to build a policy platform underpinned by data and tailored to our audience. Onward’s work identifies the precise policy areas that three million young considerers would be swayed by – and many are Conservative strengths. If we can’t build a compelling proposition around low personal taxes, responsible capitalism, protecting the environment, reforming public services and being proud to be British, we deserve to lose.

If we spend the next two years arguing about Brexit we will lose the next election, no matter where we end up. If we are to ever have a majority again, we need to reverse the age gap.

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Joel Charles: The Government must meet the challenge of our ageing population before it’s too late

Cllr Joel Charles is the Deputy Leader of the Conservative Group on Harlow Council.

Our population is ageing and the impact is being felt across local communities. As a councillor in a district named Britain’s most rapidly ageing town, I see the implications daily. In 2017, the number of people aged 90 or over in Harlow had more than doubled in 15 years.

Recent history has shown us that attempts to change policies associated with support for older people can be fraught with complexity. Local and national government cannot neglect the needs of our ageing population for much longer.

My generation has a stake in this too. If we fail to deliver action now, building an economy and communities fit for our ageing society, the challenges will be far more difficult to overcome in the decades ahead of us.

At a national level, the Office for National Statistics projects that in 50 years’ time there will be an additional 8.6 million people aged 65 years and over. If we are to overcome related challenges and capitalise upon the opportunity that the longevity dividend provides, the government needs to deliver a credible difference through action. Consultation is only helpful up to a point.

Government action should be anchored by an approach that promotes the aspirations people have as they enter later life – ensuring retirement is a positive next phase with numerous opportunities. The much-anticipated Green Paper on adult social care is a prime opportunity to present options that meet increasing local demand for support in a fair way.

I recognise that the Government has a difficult tightrope to walk. There will need to be a frank conversation about how resources and capacity can be deployed to ensure that a postcode lottery in provision is not, inadvertently, exaggerated. I was surprised that the Government took the decision not to publish the Green Paper in tandem with the NHS Long-Term Plan – both need to complement one another if progress is to be made. At best, it makes the Government look hesitant about such a pressing issue.

I hope that my analysis is wrong, and the Department of Health and Social Care has taken the time to put together a robust Green Paper. What shocked me recently was a study published by the Lancet Public Health Journal that predicted the number of people aged 85 and over needing 24-hour care is set to double by 2035. The delay in publishing the Green Paper has raised anxiety levels across the health and care sector, as well as for families and those in need of care themselves. It is important for the Government to pick up the pace, set out its options, and launch an open consultation in earnest so that action can be taken sooner rather than later.

The Government must face the reality that if it fails to act and does not publish the Green Paper soon, it will miss a prime opportunity to ensure future generations of older people receive the care and support they deserve and can afford. I am concerned that the Green Paper will be a non-event – it should kick start action, not delay it further.

Local communities are feeling the strain and are looking to the Government for action that will benefit generations of older people in or about to enter retirement. Here are some of the critical challenges that illustrate the task ahead:

Increase in multiple comorbidities

There are a growing number of people developing multiple long-term conditions or chronic diseases for which there is currently no cure. The best way to reduce the rise in multiple conditions is a well-funded national prevention plan. It is good news that Matt Hancock has made prevention a priority, but he must go further than what he has said to date. The forthcoming Prevention Green Paper should include both national and local efforts, particularly in deprived areas, to reduce the number of people developing such conditions.

Loneliness and social isolation in later life

We know that both loneliness and social isolation are bad for your physical and mental health. Age UK say that Loneliness can be as harmful for our health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day. Loneliness is a human tragedy, particularly for people in later life.

The Government launched its first Loneliness Strategy late last year. I believe the strategy needs to go further than focusing on initiatives like social prescribing and developing relationship education classes at primary and secondary school level that look at the impact of loneliness. We need to focus on promoting independent healthy lives in later life.

Local planning must also be considered in this debate because the built environment can contribute to loneliness if older people live in isolated communities. This means the National Planning Framework will need to give consideration to designing urban and rural communities that meet the needs of older people so that they can remain connected to society.


The current funding model for adult social care is broken. Although the Treasury gave local authorities additional powers through the Council Tax precept to raise funds for social care, more needs to be done. The Treasury and local authorities continue to lock horns over different mechanisms for raising new funds to render adult social care services sustainable. The commentary relating to those mechanisms has so far neglected to outline their differential impact on local areas.

There are no easy answers when deciding the fairest way to fund adult social care. Again, the Government will need to have a frank and honest conversation with the public about the costs and how the public purse can support care in the future. Hard choices will need to be made, but the Government should look to engage older people in a far more meaningful way than it has in the past to design provision in a user led way.

Tangible action can only happen when the government embraces the true reality of ageing. We need social, political and economic change at all levels to adapt and prepare for future demand. This also means the better use of existing resources and the adoption of new technologies to help people remain active and healthy for longer. That way, we can make better progress on the challenges I have identified, and we can go forward better able to anticipate the needs of our ageing population.

Our Party can start to grasp the opportunity by placing a greater emphasis on championing independence in later life. The problem is that we are steadily approaching a cliff-edge. The National Audit Office has found that over a million people over the age of 65 are faced with unmet care needs because formal care is failing to meet the increase in demand. This highlights the task at hand, but we need a fundamental rethink that breaks away from the outdated view of adult social care before we can avoid the breaking point in provision.

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