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Westlake Legal Group > Social Care

Tania Mathias: The new government is already making positive changes on the NHS and social care

Tania Mathias is an NHS doctor and former MP for Twickenham.

The new government under Boris Johnson heralds positive news for the NHS and for social care.

In the Prime Minister’s first statement to the House of Commons, and in his weekend article, it is clear that the NHS is a priority and that social care will also benefit from this reinvigorated government.

Already the new government has given a boost for the NHS – £1.8 billion over and above the pledge of an extra £20.5 billion by 2023/24 promised last year.  There is every indication that this forward-thinking government will continue to invest in and improve the health service: already we have had pledges to address the pension problem for NHS staff and GP waiting times.

Furthermore, beyond these immediate policy statements is a commitment to address the changes needed in social care. The changes in social care need Conservative values: giving the individual power and choice wherever possible, while maintaining state services with a strong economy.

Wherever possible people want control and one of the greatest fears is not having control when you are at your most vulnerable. Individual concerns about social care for older people are often about fear: fear of losing independence, fear of losing the ability to live in your own home. The government’s social care policy must give certainty and transparency.

Certainty is needed both for staff and for the people receiving care. The government has already given certainty for EU staff who are working here: EU staff have a major role in our health and social care services and the clear and unequivocal pronouncements of the Prime Minister ensuring rights for EU citizens living here are a welcome and significant priority in his first week as Prime Minister. The statements about immigration with a possible Australian-style points system will also benefit social care staffing.

Certainty for individuals receiving care can come from social care where the non-residential costs i.e. nursing and a minimum level of personal care is free at the point of need without means testing and without the person’s home being part of the equation. The 2018 IPPR report of Lord Darzi and Lord Prior has given these bold ideas a costed analysis for free nursing and defined limited personal care. Their plan removes the current anomaly whereby a person needing care for cancer related needs gets more financial help than a person needing care with dementia related needs.

The Scotland experience indicates that while large investment is needed initially, there are savings in the longer term. Importantly, family carers who are trying to balance jobs and caring for their loved ones are able to have more quality time with their relative if the state provides a certain level of personal and nursing care. There are different payment models: increasing national insurance or government insurance schemes. This government can give clarity and reassurance that NHS and social care really can be cradle to grave.

This government has the benefit of continuity in the Secretary of State, Matt Hancock, and the Long Term Plan. The latter illustrates examples where there are integrated care systems already in place that coordinate the NHS and social care and minimise the problems – such as delayed transfer for someone moving from hospital into care back in their own home or in a residential care home. Putting the patient at the centre of all decision making in this integrated system will decrease the fear that comes from uncertainty, and will also enable end of life care where the person’s wishes are at the centre of all decision making.

This government is showing clear commitments which will make this one of the most impactful governments not only for Brexit but also for the NHS and social care.

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

Adam Honeysett-Watts: After three years of gloom under May, it’s time for fun with Johnson

Adam Honeysett-Watts is Director of Conservatives in Communications and works in the financial technology sector. 

Before this leadership election got underway, I wrote that the next leader must be able to tell the Tory story – of aspiration and opportunity – and identified Boris Johnson as the person best-positioned to do that.

Having previously supported David Cameron and then Theresa May, I like to think I back winners – at least, in terms of those who reach the top. That said, while the former will be remembered for rescuing the economy – while giving people the power to marry who they love and an overdue say on Europe – the latter, much to my disappointment, has no real legacy. Johnson should avoid repeating that mistake.

His final column for the Daily Telegraph, ‘Britain must fire-up its sense of mission’, was jam-packed with the kind of Merry England* (or Merry UK) optimism that we experienced during the Cricket World Cup and that the whole country needs right now: “They went to the Moon 50 years ago. Surely today we can solve the logistical issues of the Irish border”. Quite right.

You’ve guessed it, I’m chuffed that Conservative MPs, media and members supported Johnson’s bid to become our Prime Minister. I’m looking forward to May handing him the keys to Number Ten and him batting for us after three, long years of doom and gloom. Sure, optimism isn’t everything – but it can set the tone. A detailed vision must be articulated and executed by a sound team.

Whichever side you were on before the referendum (or are on now), in the short term, we need to redefine our purpose, move forward with our global partners, unite the UK – and defeat Corbynism.

Mid-term, we should invest further in our national security and technology, improving education and life chances and encouraging greater participation in culture and sport, as well as boosting home ownership. Plus the odd tax cut here and there would be well-advised.

However, we must not put off having debates – for fear of offending – about controlling immigration and legalising drugs, and about funding for health and social care, as well as protecting the environment, for these issues matter and will matter even more in the future.

We should also avoid the temptation to ban political expression, alternative media and sugary foods, and celebrate instead free speech, press freedom and the right to choose.

Again, I look forward to Johnson peddling optimism and hope that people get behind him, because, ultimately, he will write our next chapter – and if we jump onboard and provide support, much more can be achieved by us all working together.

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

Iain Mansfield: Brexit by October 31. Stop using the Left’s language. And stand for skilled workers. Essentials for our next Prime Minister

Iain Mansfield is a former senior civil servant, winner of the Institute of Economic Affairs Brexit prize and a Conservative councillor candidate. He writes in a personal capacity.

Our next Prime Minister will take office at the most challenging time since the 1970s. Not only is there Brexit – an issue of fundamental national importance, that has destroyed the last two Prime Ministers and poses an existential challenge to the future of the Conservative Party – but the old political assumptions are changing. Across the West, traditional voter coalitions are shifting, as citizens reject centrist compromises. Flatlining productivity, unaffordable houses and millions of voters feeling abandoned, either culturally or economically, are just some of the challenges they will face.

Many of those who voted for David Cameron in 2010 are lost to the party, alienated by Brexit. In Britain today, age and education level are better predictors of a person’s vote than class. To win a general election, our next Prime Minister must forge a new coalition of voters that unites the traditional Tory shires with the left-behind Leave voters in the Midlands and North. Even more importantly, they must deliver authentic right-wing policies that address the causes of ordinary working people’s dissatisfaction. People want change and, if the Conservative Party does not deliver it, they are likely to seek answers in the flawed blandishments of Jeremy Corbyn’s socialism.

In that context, there are three essentials that our next Prime Minister must prioritise for the good of the people, the nation and the party:

  • Leave the EU by 31 October, on WTO terms if needed.
  • Openly champion conservative values rather than speaking the language of the left.
  • Reposition the party as the natural home of the skilled working and lower middle classes.

Leave the EU by 31 October, on WTO terms if needed

Not only is delivering on the outcome of the referendum a democratic imperative, it is vital for the continued existence of the party. Recent polling shows that, if we have not left the EU, the Conservatives are likely to suffer devastating losses in a general election; these figures could be even worse if large numbers of members, councillors or even entire associations defect to the Brexit Party. Many members have held on over the last few months purely out of hope that the next Prime Minister would deliver where May failed: another betrayal in October would see these members permanently lost.

Leaving with a deal is preferable, if some changes to the backstop can be agreed and Parliament will pass it. If not, as I have argued previously on this site, we have nothing to fear from No Deal. Preparations for such should be put into top gear on the first day in office. The Prime Minister must make clear that they will under no circumstances ask for an extension; and that they are, if needed, prepared to systematically veto any measure put forward by the EU on regular business if the UK is for some reason kept in. While every effort should be made to secure a deal, if it cannot be reached, Parliament must be faced with the simple choice of permitting a WTO exit or voting no confidence in the Prime Minister – a gamble, admittedly, but one that is preferable to another disastrous extension.

Openly champion conservative values rather than speaking the language of the left

In recent years too many Conservative politicians have allowed our opponents to define the playing field. We cannot beat the socialists by adopting the language and assumptions of socialism. Our next Prime Minister must stop feeding the narrative of identity, grievance and division, with its assumption that an individual’s potential is defined by their characteristics, that so-called ‘burning injustices’ are solely the responsibility of the state to address, and that the government always no best.

Changing the narrative will be a long endeavour. The systematic appointment of those with conservative values into key ministerially appointed positions; an authentically right-wing approach to policy making in Whitehall; and the withdrawal of state funding from the network of organisations that maintain the left’s grip on the policy narrative are essential. But over and above this, the Prime Minister must be willing to personally stand up and champion individual liberties and freedoms; to condemn progressive authoritarianism and to be visibly proud of Britain, our culture and the rich global heritage of our citizens.

Reposition the party as the natural home of the skilled working and lower middle classes

Young, metropolitan graduates may once have been natural Conservatives, but no longer. There is little hope of reversing this in the immediate aftermath of Brexit. Instead of squandering our effort here, our new Prime Minister should instead make the party the natural home of the skilled working and lower middle classes, particularly in the midlands and north.

Such voters have a natural affinity to the traditional conservative values of low tax and individual liberty, but also greatly value and rely day-to-day onn strong public services. This places the Conservatives in a difficult position after a decade of austerity: Labour made hay campaigning on cuts to police numbers and falls in per pupil spending in 2017. But how to fund significant increases in core services without raising taxes or alienating core Conservative voters, such as via the disastrous proposals on social care in the 2017 manifesto?

To find the funding the next Prime Minister must be bold enough to slay the progressive sacred cows that soak up billions annually in public funding. Three immediately spring to mind:

With the additional £15 billion plus a year, the Prime Minister could at a stroke increase police funding by 25 per cent (£3 billion), boost school funding per pupil by 20 per cent (£8 billion) and increase spending on social care by 20 per cent (£4 billion). And then split the proceeds of further growth between public services and tax cuts.

As well as this, we should champion the interests of the high street, enterprise and small businesses and oppose crony corporatism. Multinational companies that make use of aggressive tax avoidance, abuse their market position or actively work against UK sovereignty should not enjoy government grants, procurement or time in No. 10. Fundamentally, our next Prime Minister should spend more time listening to the Federation of Small Businesses and less time listening to the CBI.

Conclusion

As members, we have two candidates set before us. Both are able politicians and tested leaders who represent the best the Parliamentary party has to offer. As we assess who should be not just our next leader, but our Prime Minister, we should do so against their ability to deliver these vital elements.

Both have committed to delivering Brexit by October 31 – but which one has the ability, the genuine will and the courage to do so by any means necessary? Both are true-blue Conservatives – but which one will truly champion our values, taking the battle to our adversaries with the eloquence and conviction of a Thatcher or a Churchill? Both recognise the importance of reaching out to new voters – but which one can devise and push through the policies needed to unite the Tory shires with the Leave voters of the north? Consider carefully and cast your vote.

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

Damian Green: Greater funding for social care requires a frank discussion with voters about priorities

Damian Green is MP for Ashford, and is a former Secretary of State for Work and Pensions.

Whoever the new Prime Minister is (full disclosure: I’m a Boris Johnson supporter), they will need a lively domestic agenda to complement the final throes of this stage of Brexit. Which will mean tackling some of the burning injustices which were identified but not addressed by the outgoing administration. The grasping of social care must be an urgent priority.

For many years social care and its funding has been one of the most difficult subjects in British politics. In 2010, the Labour proposals were condemned by Conservatives as a Death Tax, and Labour were out. What goes around comes around, and in 2017 our own ideas, more generous than the existing system, were badged the Dementia Tax, and dreams of a large majority disappeared overnight.

It is one of the most personal issues possible, as many individuals suddenly find themselves having to provide a decent quality of life to a loved one with no proper guidance about how to do it, and what their entitlements are.

At the same time it is financially demanding. Essentially, the vast majority of people agree that we need to spend more on social care. Simultaneously, they are insistent that they should not themselves pay any extra tax. We need a serious national conversation about this (not staring in mid-campaign) and must face up to some unpalatable truths.

The current social care system is unsustainable not just financially but politically. It is too often opaque to those trying to understand it, with no apparent logic to the conditions which receive free NHS treatment, and those which do not. It is also apparently unfair in not rewarding a lifetime of prudence. Those who have saved feel that their savings will simply disappear, while those who have not saved receive the same level of care.

Less well-known is the fact that funding social care out of council tax means that local authorities are reluctant to allow too many care homes to be built. An ageing population means that already more than two fifths of council spending goes on social care. This figure will only increase over the years, so councils are fearful that all their other services will be swamped by the rising demands of the social care system.

The failures in social care put unnecessary extra pressure on the NHS. Indeed, the new, generous funding plan for the NHS depends on the assumption that we develop a social care system which keeps people out of hospital longer and discharges them in a smooth and timely fashion.

I recently published a paper for the Centre for Policy Studies “Fixing the Care Crisis” which dealt specifically with the problem of care for older people. There is at least as big a problem for working age people who need care, but let’s deal with one problem at a time.

A new system will need to meet four objectives. It will need to provide enough money to cope with an ageing population. It will need to be fair across generations and between individuals, ensuring that no one has to sell their own home, and ending the “dementia lottery”. It must lead to an increase in the supply of care beds and retirement housing. And ideally it should secure cross-party consensus.

We should look as a model to the pension system, where the basic State Pension has been increased significantly, while at the same time most people save additionally through their working years to provide comfort and security in old age. Auto-enrolment has been a great cross-party success story, encouraging millions more to save towards extra security in old age. The benefits will not come for decades, but they will be huge when they arrive.

Similarly, just as the basic State Pension has been improved in recent years I believe we should offer a Universal Care Entitlement, offering a better level of care both for homecare and residential care. For those who need residential care this would cover the core residential costs. Needs would be assessed locally but the money would come from central Government. This would take away the pressures on local councils.

Will this involve extra money? Of course it will. My estimate in the CPS paper is that providing decent care in this way would involve an extra £2.5 billion extra a year immediately, with increasing amounts as the demographics change over the years. Others put the figure higher. This is serious money, but not a big problem for the Treasury to find to improve a vital service. Any suggestions for an increase in tax or National Insurance will be controversial, as I have found, but politicians need to be honest about this. If the public want extra spending, the Government will have to raise more money to pay for it.

In addition, we need to find an acceptable way to allow those with the capacity to improve their own provision to do so. This would come through a Care Supplement, a new form of insurance designed specifically to fund more extensive care costs in old age.

This is analogous to the private pension system, which sits alongside the state system. It would allow people to buy insurance at the level they can afford to provide peace of mind. It would not be compulsory, (as pension auto-enrolment is not compulsory) so could not be stigmatised as a Death Tax or Dementia Tax. People could save for it over many years or make a one-off payment (possibly using equity release) at a suitable time in their lives.

These ideas would take the burden of social care funding away from local authorities, and even more importantly offer certainty and security to the increasing numbers who will need social care in old age. No one would have to sell their house and see their inheritance disappear. Everyone would have the chance of receiving better care. Fewer people would be left unnecessarily in hospital beds as they wait for social care to be available.

None of this is easy and it will take political courage. But it absolutely necessary if we are to provide peace of mind and security to frail elderly people who richly deserve it.

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 

Mark Harper: Our social care policy should be more ambitious

Mark Harper is MP for the Forest of Dean, a former Chief Whip, and former Minister for Disabled People.

When social care is discussed in the media or in Parliament, the conversation almost always focuses on the needs of older people. What is not widely known is that just over half of the adult social care budget in England is actually spent, not on older people, but on working age adults with some form of disability. And I am going to talk about both.

A lot of the discussion on social care for older people is about how it is paid for, that is to say how you split the cost between the individual and the taxpayer. That is because many older people will have accumulated significant assets by the time they need social care, and it is reasonable that the cost is shared between them and the taxpayer. The debate is about the balance between the two.

For the last two years, the Government has been talking about how to fund social care. However, the Dilnot Commission in 2011 confirmed that the public agreed that the cost of social care for older people should be shared between the individual and the taxpayer.

We have already put down the foundations for some of the recommendations from Dilnot in primary legislation with the Care Act 2014. All that remains is to draft the secondary legislation to put the figure for the cap in. This could be done very quickly – taking action beats more talking.

Britain has a proud record of being a leading country on enabling disabled people to be more independent and get into work. I am familiar with this policy area because I was the Shadow Minister for Disabled People for almost three years, between 2007 and 2010, and the Minister for Disabled People between 2014 and 2015.

In our 2017 general election manifesto, we set out an ambition to get a million more disabled people into employment over ten years. That is the right direction of travel, but I would like to see us be more ambitious about both the destination and the speed with which we intend to reach it.

I have a suggestion: perhaps we should re-adopt the commitment we made in our 2015 manifesto that ‘we will aim to halve the disability employment gap’. The Social Market Foundation has said that the 2015 commitment would see between 200,000 to 500,000 extra disabled people in work compared to our 2017 promise. In the interests of transparency, I should explain that, as the Minister for Disabled People in the run up to the 2015 election, I may have had a hand in drafting said manifesto commitment myself!

The Social Care Green Paper offers an opportunity to set out some of the Government’s thinking and some of the options it has for action for working age adults with some form of disability. Publishing it would kick off the necessary debate about the right solutions. The Government would have an opportunity to listen to valuable feedback from disabled people, expert organisations involved in this field and the wider public. It would then be able to set out specific actions it is going to take, legislating where necessary. The sooner we begin, the sooner we can see real change taking place and the sooner disabled people will feel the benefit.

I chair the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Learning Disability, and recently chaired a joint meeting with eight other relevant APPGs to talk about what we wanted to see in the Green Paper. This meeting was attended by a number of disabled people and campaigners for change. A summary of the meeting will shortly be sent to the Health and Social Care Secretary.

One clear theme that emerged was to see better joined-up working between the social care, health, and welfare systems. There is quite a lot of support available already, but it does not always work well together as a package. For example, if someone acquires a disability, the rest of their life (their work, their family) keeps going at the same pace but things can go wrong because the support they need, like social care, home adaptations, and financial help, do not get going quickly enough.

The funding of social care for working age adults is very different from funding social care for older people, as they often have few, if any, assets. Any kind of means testing for social care support for them runs the risk of creating further barriers to getting into work.

Looking at the system overall, there may be areas where an increase in spending is required but that may lead to savings elsewhere. For example, more resources available to enable somebody to work is likely to lead to better health outcomes as well as that person making a financial contribution to the public finances.

Conservatives want to enable disabled people to live their lives as independently as possible to reach their full potential. We should be ambitious about our commitments, so I would like to see us improve our goal for getting more disabled people into work, reverting to the better target we had in our 2015 general election manifesto. We need to see more effective joined up working between the social care, health, and welfare systems. To that end, publishing the Social Care Green Paper now would kick off the necessary debate. There are millions of disabled people in our country who will welcome us gripping this issue and making rapid progress to deliver real improvements to their lives.

And for those older people needing social care, swift implementation of a cap as recommended by the Dilnot Commission would lead to a much fairer system.

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

Gary Porter: Why I’m backing Javid

Lord Porter is the Chairman of the Local Government Association.

It seems that the Tory leadership contest is really a two horse race: Boris Johnson and ‘somebody else.’

I worked with Boris when he was Mayor of London and I was chairman of the Conservative Councillors’ Association, and he kindly supported us at a couple of our conferences.

I know of his outstanding qualities in a number of areas, but I am backing ‘somebody else.’

That ‘somebody’ in my case is Sajid Javid.

I worked with Saj for a number of years when he was our Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government. He was always a pleasure to work with, and really got the value of what our local government members bring to the Party.

In particular, he secured two big wins for local government during his time as our Secretary of State.

Firstly, having listened to our lobbying on the crisis in social care, he worked with the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Health Secretary to secure an additional £2 billion in funding for social care in the 2017 budget. This represented a significant short-term injection of funding into social care, directly benefiting some of the most vulnerable members of our society.

What I found particularly impressive about this was not just the extra money that he secured – as important as this was – but the way that, having grasped the complexity of the issue, he worked across Whitehall Departments to successfully deliver it for us.

Secondly, getting more homes built and families on the property ladder is the Government’s biggest challenge outside of delivering Brexit. Delivering a property-owning democracy is of course a core tenet of conservatism, but, more pragmatically, the fact that so many younger and middle-aged voters are currently unable to buy their own homes presents an existential electoral threat to us.

With the Government committed to building 300,000 new homes a year by the mid-2020s, it is essential that development is accompanied by infrastructure that makes it sustainable. Again, working with the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Saj managed to secure £5 billion for the new Housing Infrastructure Fund which is designed to unlock up to 200,000 new homes in areas of high demand.

In addition to a solid record of policy delivery, Saj has a brilliant backstory that will resonate with anyone who believes in conservative values. He embodies our belief that it is ‘what you are’ rather than ‘who you are’ that really counts.

When Brexit is out of the way and no longer an issue, we will need someone who can reach out to the widest possible audience. I believe that Saj is the best placed contender to do this.

The other leadership candidates all have admirable qualities. For example, in the social care example mentioned above, Jeremy Hunt, in his then role as Health Secretary, also played a critical role in securing the additional funding from the Treasury.

My positive endorsement of Saj is based on the fact that of all the contenders, he is the one that I have worked with most closely and, more importantly, his record of delivering for local government and the communities that we serve.

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

Michael Gove: I have shown in government that I deliver. And as Prime Minister, I will deliver Brexit – and stop Corbyn.

Michael Gove is Environment Secretary and is MP for Surrey Heath.

To be Conservative is to believe in the importance of the special worth of each individual, liberated to become the author of their own life story – supported by strengthened families, communities and historic institutions. That was the answer I gave ConservativeHome this week, when asked by this website’s readers and editors for my definition of conservatism.

It is rooted in my experience in Government – as Education Secretary, Justice Secretary and Environment Secretary – but also in my own life story. Because I wasn’t born Michael Gove. As I explained to supporters at my leadership campaign launch in Westminster this week, I was born – 51 years ago – Graeme Logan, to a mother I never knew. I was taken from her and spent the first four months of my life in care.

In a life-changing moment, I was then adopted by my amazing mum and dad, Ernie and Christine. I still remember my mum explaining to me what adoption meant, when the right moment arrived. She said: “Son, you didn’t grow under my heart, you grew in it.” Without my parents’ love – unstinting, total and selfless as it was – I know for sure that I would never have been able to be where I am today. I would never have had the chance to serve in Government; or to stand to be Prime Minister, ready to lead the country I love.

Being adopted makes me all too personally aware of how much in life depends on chance. When I was the Shadow Education Secretary, I remember reading about a school that I could have gone to, if I hadn’t been adopted by my mum and dad. It was a school where only one child, in an entire year, got the five good GCSEs that are a passport to a brighter future.

I thought then: what if my life had started there? What would my future have been? It’s because I know how fragile fortune is – how much depends on others, and how everyone has something to give but too few get the chance – that I am in politics.

It is also why I am a Conservative. I had a clear mission as Education Secretary that reflected this too. I wanted to make sure that every child, whatever their background or circumstances, was given the chance to shine. I make no apology for driving through reform as fast as I could. There was no time to waste – because children only get one shot at education. Now, thanks to the reforms I led, 1.9 million more children are in good and outstanding schools.

For the same reason, I was just as dedicated to getting results when I was Justice Secretary. Prisons exist to keep the public safe. But at the same time, every prisoner should be given the chance of redemption and to turn their life around. As I saw it, education behind bars, and the right support from prison staff, is the only way to reduce reoffending and ultimately reduce the number of victims of crime. My reforms put that into action.

As Environment Secretary, I am also in a hurry to change things. Our planet is in peril. I don’t want the next generation to inherit a world which is dirtier, more dangerous and less beautiful. I want to ensure that the earth, which is our common home, is handed on to the next generation cleaner, greener and healthier. So I’ve taken action to help end plastic pollution, clean up our air, improve animal welfare and support our farmers better in everything they do.

Right now, no leader faces a bigger challenge than delivering a true Brexit. On this, I feel a personal responsibility. I led the campaign to leave the European Union. I made the argument to audiences of voters in the heat of the TV debates. And I knew when I made the decision to lead the campaign, it would involve personal sacrifice – putting a strain on friendships and my family.

Yet I wanted to stand up for the working people who wanted real change. People like my mum and dad, whose fish merchants in Aberdeen went to the wall when I was a teenager because of the European Union’s policies. They were not alone. The EU’s Common Fisheries Policy meant lost jobs and broken dreams for many people in my part of Scotland – thanks to decisions taken in distant committee rooms, by people we never elected and couldn’t remove. It was this experience that led me, after careful thought, to campaign to take back control – and against the odds we won.

But three years after the referendum, we still haven’t left. I share the frustration of so many that we are still in the EU. I feel it every single day and it is one of the reasons I am standing – to deliver on the result that we won in 2016. But it’s not enough to just believe in Brexit. You have got to be able to deliver it. I believe my experience in Government – mastering those detailed briefs, making my case around the Cabinet table and beyond, winning support, driving through reform, means I am in the best position to deliver Brexit.

Britain needs a Brexit that takes back control of our money, laws and borders. A Brexit that means we are out of the Common Fisheries Policy, out of the Common Agricultural Policy and out of the political structures of the EU. The UK should build a new relationship with Europe, based on a Canada-style free trade deal with Europe. That must be our urgent aim.

I am determined to deliver – and deliver quickly. As those who know me best will confirm, I am not someone who lets the grass grow beneath my feet. But there is one thing I will not do – I will not risk a general election before we deliver Brexit.

If we did do that, we’d effectively be handing the keys to Number 10 Downing Street over to Jeremy Corbyn. Gone would be the chance to deliver Brexit. Gone would be the opportunity to make Britain the best country in the world for education and science; the chance to strengthen the Union, cut tax and regulation, promote competition and free choice and spread prosperity across the country. Gone would be the chance to invest in our schools, increasing funding per pupil in real terms, to improve transport links in the South-West Midlands and North of England, and to reform social care to provide peace of mind for every family.

That is why we cannot risk Corbyn becoming Prime Minister. There is so much we can do to make our country even better. I have shown in every role in Government I’ve had that I have a passion for making people’s lives better. I have demonstrated that I can bring teams together, reach across divides and deliver real change. I have led from the front, undaunted by criticism and resolute in the need to solve complex issues. That is what this country needs, right here, right now.

It is a serious time in the life of our nation. The stakes have never been higher. And the consequences have rarely been greater. It requires a serious leader, who is ready to lead from day one. To deliver Brexit, to take the fight to Labour and to debate and argue fearlessly for what we, as Conservatives, believe in.  

 

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Nick Rushton: Councils’ funding gap must be faced by the new Prime Minister – or we risk suffering at the ballot box.

Cllr Nick Rushton is the County Councils Network finance spokesman and the Leader of Leicestershire County Council

Uncertainty is the only certainty at the moment in Westminster: it is unclear who will be the new Prime Minister, and it is unclear who will make up a new government and what its domestic priorities will be.

It is also glaring that not one of the 10 candidates for the top job in the land has mentioned local government. That must change.

That uncertainty is projected onto us in local government. The current upheaval means that it is unlikely we will see a Spending Review this year, or the planned reforms to local government finance implemented next year.

If this comes to pass it will be bitterly disappointing, however extenuating the circumstances. Next year will be ten years since austerity began. There is a desperate need to reform a broken local government finance system in the fair funding review, and for the Spending Review to address the pinch areas.

Faced with unprecedented financial pressures, councils have shown how it has been just about possible to cope with austerity, transforming services and doing more for less. In a sense, austerity has shown the best of local government – we have done more than any part of the public sector to restore the finances of this country whilst maintaining services, despite cost and demand increases.

But so far we have had nothing in return and the truth is that the elastic can barely be stretched much further.

Last month the County Councils Network (CCN) released a new report with PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), which looks at the challenges facing councils in a different way.

There has been plenty of analysis of the sustainability of funding in local government in recent times, but most has narrowly focused on who has suffered the most from reductions in funding. Instead we should be looking at what resources councils really need to provide services.

PwC’s analysis for CCN, one of the most detailed to-date, does precisely this – projecting spending need and the ‘funding gap’ facing local services up to 2025.

The headline results are stark. If no extra funding is made available, councils in England will face a £51.8bn cumulative funding gap that must be filled by 2025. This falls to £30.2bn if councils put their council tax up by a further 2.99 per cent each year for the next five years.

To fill the rest of this gap, most of us in local government, particularly in counties, will be left with unpalatable choices. Pressures on children’s services, notably funding for children with special needs and disabilities, are increasing daily. It is no use government spokesmen saying that spending is at record levels when it takes no account of demand, mostly brought about by legislation. There will be further charges simply to preserve existing services, especially in adult social care, and increasing reductions in library and recycling centre services, road conditions, streetlights, and youth and school transport.

Whilst this sounds like a race to the bottom, it is a situation facing even the most well-run councils and it omits another hugely significant need for funding, which is not yet getting the attention it deserves. In Leicestershire, population growth alone over the next 25 years is estimated to cost us an extra £600m to finance the necessary roads, infrastructure, and schools. Of course, we are not alone. Unless the government recognises this and respond appropriately, its central ambition to drive housing and economic growth will stall.

Importantly, the analysis from PwC confirms what many of us in England’s counties have known for a long time: counties are the most exposed to financial pressures but are the least resourced to deal with them. Whilst all the time giving rural residents a rawer deal than those living in other parts of the country. In total, the 36 county authorities in CCN membership make up 41 per cent of the total funding gap (£21.5bn) facing all councils in England.

Due to historic underfunding of county areas, we have less ability to preserve highly-valued services compared to other areas of England, most notably London. The report demonstrates that over the past four years, if London had been providing a level of service more comparable to other councils, it would have had a funding surplus. Conversely, CCN councils have around £1bn of ‘unmet need’ in their historic expenditure. That is not to say that the capital has not faced financial challenges – of course it has. And it is not to say that councils in London do not have specific cost and demand pressures, but their funding compared to counties (councils in London currently receive 64 per cent more per person) has allowed them to deliver a more substantial local service offer.

Therefore, the government’s fair funding review simply has to take place. There will have to be some transitional funding but it must, without fear or favour, address a broken system of financing local authorities.

Conservatives have always prided ourselves on low tax and high quality services. But if all we are offering is yearly tax rises and service reductions, it is probable we will be punished further at the ballot box. Contrast the county elections of 2017 where we won a significant number of seats and councils, to how well the party performed last month. Unless we set out an ambitious offer for residents, we risk losing voters in our heartlands.

The plight of local services must be on the mind of the next Prime Minister when it comes to the domestic agenda in England. It is imperative that the Prime Minister and new ministers talk to us – we are, after all, their base both in terms of the leadership election and for the party as a whole, especially after last month’s election results. Conservative Party revival and renewal always starts via local government.

We look forward to hearing the new government set out its vision for local authorities in the debates over the next few weeks, when we must continue to press the case for sustainable and fairer funding.

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Dean Godson: There are plenty of ideas on the centre-right. Here’s how it can create a new, decent, patriotric consensus.

Dean Godson is Director of Policy Exchange.

Where next? For the last two years, British politics has been stuck in paralysis. There has been a lot of noise and clamour, but no side seems capable of creating consensus and winning broad support. That is not to say that this is a dull time in our national debate – a deep ideological contest is under way for the future of our country. It will reverberate long after Brexit, in whatever form, is complete.

It is often said today that all the intellectual energy is on the Left. But is this true? There are no leaders of the quality of Clement Attlee on the Labour benches. There are no economists or thinkers of the ilk of Anthony Crosland. Thirty years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, we have people aspiring to power in this country who are proud to call themselves Marxists – including the Shadow Chancellor.

The problem is not that there is an absence of ideas on the centre-right. It is that they have yet to coalesce into a coherent vision of national renewal. Policy Exchange, for example, identified the plight of the “just about managing” classes in our country – the JAMs – in 2015. So many in the country would put themselves in this camp. But has enough really been done for them in the four years since? Do they think the state is on their side, or that the political class is fighting for them?

The election of a new Conservative Party leader is the moment – perhaps the last chance – to get this right. One of the greatest mistakes that the Tories could make is to play the only game that Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party is capable of – sectional, identity politics that sets different groups of voters against each other.

Last year, Policy Exchange organised a Conservative conference event with the title ‘Can the Conservatives win in Canterbury and in Middlesbrough at the same time?’ But you could ask the same question of Labour. As it stands, the UK risks being treated as if it exists in balkanised sub-electorates, each with niche interests and obsessions. The only way to electoral victory in this model is with temporarily cobbled together coalitions of rival groups.

Yet despite polarisation on Brexit and other issues, there is more agreement – and more consensus – among voters than often appears, and therefore more cause for optimism. This is not a jingoistic nation. Instead, there is a deep tissue of patriotism in the best sense of the word – a fidelity to constitution, citizenship and community – that has too often been dismissed out of hand. Policy Exchange’s polling on the Union revealed that a clear majority of people in the UK say their support for it has remained constant or has risen in recent years – 78 per cent in England, 60 per cent in Scotland, 69 per cent in Wales, 70 per cent in Northern Ireland.

There is also, among immigrant communities in the UK, a complete rejection of the gatekeeper politics that sees putatively “national” representative organisations claim to speak on behalf of millions without their consent, in the most damaging form of identity politics. Only 20 per cent of British Muslims, for example, saw themselves as represented by such organisations. Fifty-five per cent of British Muslims felt ‘very strongly’ that they belonged to Britain and 38 per cent ‘fairly strongly’ that they belonged to Britain; only seven per cent did not feel a strong sense of belonging to the UK.

Consensus can be found elsewhere. Our work on lawfare – the unfair hounding of British troops through the courts – has had huge cut-through with the British public, whose outcry on the issue has forced our political and legal establishment to wake up.

The same goes for housing, where our research was based on the simple proposition that the way to overcome opposition to building more homes – so-called Nimbyism – is to make sure they are designed in a way that fits the tastes of local communities and makes our country more beautiful. This is a vision with massive support.  Traditional terraces with tree-lined streets, for instance, are by far the most popular option for the design and style of new homes. They may be unfashionable among “starchitects” but they are supported by 48 per cent of the public, with some of the strongest support among working-class Ds and Es. And how many want housing developments or estates in a modern style? Just 28 per cent.  Our polling shows a clear majority favour traditional design over modern developments. In housing and more, the first job of the new Prime Minister is to come up with a coherent national narrative that restores our sense of direction as a country.

There is the chance for a new Unionism, not just making sure that the individual countries of Scotland, Wales, England and Northern Ireland breathe comfortably within the shared home of the United Kingdom, but also that the Union itself is to an extent reconceptualised – so that we build a union between young and old and address the challenge of generational justice. A union between newer arrivals in Britain and long-established communities, so that suspicions and enmities can be overcome. A union between those whose faith means so much for them, and others for whom faith is vestigial and whose values increasingly shape the public space.  In short, we need a new social contract for post-Brexit Britain.

Social care is one concrete policy example. It is increasingly plain to those involved in the care sector that the state should cover almost all of the costs of long-term complex social care, which can involve ruinous costs for individuals and families, particularly for those suffering from dementia in old age. It can lead to the forced sales of family homes and wipe out a lifetime of saving and hard work. This idea – effectively the completion of the Welfare State – was proposed in a recent Policy Exchange research paper and embraced, perhaps surprisingly for someone on the right of the Conservative Party, by Jacob Rees-Mogg, who argued in the foreword that “It is far better to pool risk and for the taxpayer, where appropriate, to step in and help those who would face ruinous costs on their own, making social care largely free at the point of use.” He is surely right.

Where else could the next Prime Minister discover a quiet majority? On the environment, perhaps, where there are strong arguments to reduce carbon emissions to net zero by 2050 – with support especially high among the young. On investment in R & D and industry, especially in the North East, which could become a leader in the high-value, green economy. Certainly, on protecting British troops from pernicious forms of lawfare, which has high levels of support because of the obvious injustices involved. On education, too, where our polling revealed that poor pupil behaviour is driving teachers from the profession and undermining children’s education – 72 per cent of teachers know a colleague who has “left the teaching profession because of bad behaviour”. On countering extremism online, 74 per cent think that the big internet companies should be more proactive in locating and deleting extremist content, with 66 per cent of people believing that the internet should be a regulated space.

There is more thinking to be done across all policy areas – People, Prosperity, Place and Patriotism, as Policy Exchange’s work is organised – as a new Prime Minister is chosen. With that in mind, we will be publishing a series of proposals under these themes in the forthcoming weeks, which will seek to answer the question: what do we want from the next Prime Minister? We will also be hosting a series of events, including one in partnership with ConservativeHome, on electoral politics, housing, the economy, education, energy and the environment, lawfare and the rise of China. Only by hunting out areas of existing consensus will the next Prime Minister be able to start bringing the country together and healing the divides of last few years.

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