Norman Lamb MP visits Walton

Norman Lamb, Liberal Democrat MP for Norfolk North, spoke in Walton on Thames last week  about Brexit and the NHS and social care.

BREXIT   He  started by saying  there is  hardly any debate on anything other than Brexit  going on in Westminster at the moment.  He said that he had not known anything like it, it was as if  normal service has been suspended.

He said that when the reality of the Brexit deal is determined; sometime in the Autumn, he anticipates strong disquiet in the Conservative ranks and does not believe Jeremy Corbyn is electable.  However,  he continued,  that sadly this has not currently led to a boost to the Lib Dems in the polls. An autumn a political constitutional crisis was likely  (note by author : Vince Cable said something similar) but felt it was very hard to predict how this will play out and how Theresa May might navigate her way through it.

HEALTH AND SOCIAL CARE    “ There was a  crisis in the provision of care,  we have seen a  15% increase in the need for care of the elderly over the last 10 years,  very rapid change.

  • 1984 there were 600,000 people in care in the UK,
  • 2002 there were 1,300,000
  • 2032 there will be 3,100,000

At the moment there are 1.2million people with unmet care needs. Half the population over 75 live on their own, and could become increasingly dependent especially as families have become much more dispersed, making  support difficult”.

He posed questions:

  • Should young people pay?
  • Should most of it be paid by older people?
  • Should freebies like winter fuel payments be paid universally?

We don’t yet have fair answers.

He said that traditional party politics are not moving this forward, although the Conservative manifesto proposal of guaranteeing that no one should pay more than £100,000 for their care was a brave initiative. However, it was not well received and was somewhat unfair as it depended on the value of property and on an individual’s wealth as only poorer people would likely have to sell their house.

So how to raise funds fairly? He had been instrumental in bringing together 90 cross party MPs to consider the options as Government is clearly not addressing the issue. It seems that Theresa May  is clearly not cable of taking initiative but wonderful at arranging consultations, she was  hostage to the right of her party and the Brexit process. The cross party group proposes that there should be a hypothecated charge of say 2% on income tax but it would be separately identified and separately and independently managed and monitored. It could be reviewed from year to year by the Office of Budget Responsibility (OBR)  This idea had been  discussed with various civil servants who are supportive.

He went on to talk about the very severe shortage of support for mental health issues especially with young people. When he was in the coalition (2010-2015) he set the first ever target for mentally ill patients to receive attention to be within 2 weeks of it being sought. This has drastically slipped now but it is widely recognised  advantageous.  If mental health problems can start to be tackled within two weeks the further development of the symptoms and the loss of employment, friends and society links can be substantially avoided leading to earlier recovery.

Crisis in care

Our care system is broken. Austerity policies, reduced central grants to councils and an ageing population together have brought us near to crisis. This is a national problem, felt locally. It is made worse when local councils have mis-managed their budgets. In Surrey, Conservative Surrey County Council (SCC) kept rate increases lower than they needed to and made costly investment errors. As result SCC has to make serious cuts in services to our needy elderly and high-dependency younger adults.

There are now more people being refused help because their needs are “not great enough”; less support for voluntary services, and a greater dependence on regular input from family members to take care of basic needs – no good if you have no family locally, or if they are worn out by caring.

In 2011, the Liberal Democrats in government led a review of care. The resulting Dilnot report and legislation designed to fix funding of care have been ignored by Conservative governments. We need reform, and soon.

Sir Vince Cable talks to local Lib Dems

 

Christine Elmer, Lib Dem Councillor for Walton South and Chris Elmer, Lib Dem candidate for Walton South in May 2018

Vince Cable with Vicki Macleod,  candidate for Weybridge Lib Dems in Elmbridge council elections in May 2018.  

On 30th November Vince Cable, leader of the Liberal Democrats, spoke to a packed village hall in Claygate. His message was clear, Brexit is a disaster, the government is in turmoil and divided, and three great problems are in the way of a successful ‘divorce’ of Britain from Europe.

Sir Vince Cable expressed much concern over how “the loss of European nurses and doctors in Kingston Hospital and other critical services impacts patient care negatively”. This is just one of the many consequences of Brexit.

Hospitality industries are beginning to suffer from lack of workforce, agriculture cannot get seasonal workers, universities are losing European students, research grants are being denied to our scientists and the list keeps growing.

According to Cable, it’s understandable why businesses in the City and beyond are preparing to relocate. Uncertainty caused by Brexit is bad for business as it makes future planning difficult and discourages much needed investment in skills and new enterprise. This feeds the downward cycle of low wages, low productivity, and poor economic performance.

Vince Cable spoke at the Liberal Exchange hosted by Elmbridge Liberal Democrats and outlined the serious challenges Britain faces in “tortuously complex Brexit talks”. He also explained why the Liberal Democrats are advocating the people’s right to choose between staying in the EU on current terms or accepting the deal negotiated by the government. “This will be the first referendum based on facts, not on fiction and fraudulent promises”, Cable argued.

The keen audience kept Sir Vince on his feet for the best part of two hours with questions ranging from a variety of Brexit issues to the government’s ongoing austerity measures, funding of higher education, apprenticeships and further education plus more. Disappointingly for Cable the current Tory government is “destroying the successful apprenticeship scheme with the ill-advised new levy”. In this context Cable emphasised the need for ‘non-tribal’ thinking in solving the country’s problems, although sadly “tribalism is rife in British politics and hampers progress”.

Sir Vince talked about Brexit’s debilitating effect on many government departments. “Their work has ground to a halt due to lack of resource or political ‘bandwidth’. The whole country suffers as a result.” “Yet there is much work to be done quite apart from Brexit to eradicate the plight of social exclusion, generational divisions, regional inequality and re-empowering local government. This is the agenda for us Liberal Democrats,” Vince Cable concluded.

Jaska Alanko, Liberal Democrat with Sir Vince

Vince Cable with Barry Fairbank, Lib Dem Councillor for Long Ditton

Surrey Heartlands – the next five years of Health and Social Care in Elmbridge

What’s happening to health and social care in our area?

Quite a lot actually!

The NHS has launched a programme to improve joined up working across health and social care services and is seeking to improve community provision for vulnerable groups – especially the frail elederly.

The mechanism for achieving this is locally based Sustainability and Transformation Partnerships (STPs).

Citizens of Elmbridge come under the Surrey Heartlands STP, which includes Surrey County Council, the two CCGs covering Elmbridge, and other healthcare providers.

As Surrey Heartlands has a much larger than average older population, there is a focus in the plan on improving serrvices for this group. Just to paint the picture, over the next 10 years the number of people aged 85+ will go up by 36% and by 2025 more than 20% of the population in our area will be aged 65+.

Public Engagement is also a key feature of the partnership working that is central to the new approach. This is seen as a way to involve citizens in “defining the priorities and trade-offs that will be needed to achieve this service transformation, within the resources available locally.”

A further feature of the plan is to trial devolution of powers and budget to Surrey Heartlands (see p10 in the plan). This is designed to enable “full integration with Surrey County Council, integrating health and care delivery with the wider determinants of health in our population”

If anyone is interested in getting involved as a community stakeholder, there is a stakeholder reference group meeting on 18 October at Leatherhead Leisure Centre, Guildford Road, Leatherhead starting at 2 pm. There is also a Surrey Heartlands Newsletter.

The contact person for both of these is: glynis.mcdonald@nhs.net

The Surrey Heartlands Sustainability and Transormation Plan can be found at http://www.nwsurreyccg.nhs.uk/surreyheartlands/Documents/Surrey%20Heartlands%20STP%20October%202016.pdf

The Devolution Agreement document can be found at
http://www.nwsurreyccg.nhs.uk/surreyheartlands/PublishingImages/Pages/News/Devolution%20Agreement.pdf

Extra support during a power cut?

power-cutAlthough power cuts don’t happen very often when they do they can be worrying.  UK Power Networks is the electricity network and it provides a ‘Priority Services Register’ for people who might need extra help in a power cut.  Older people, families with very young children, and people with specific medical conditions are among the many people who are eligible to register for free support.  You can find more details and register by visiting the website or calling 0800 169 9970.

Lib Dems urge Surrey to protect children

Childrens servicesFollowing an Ofsted inspection this June, which rated Surrey’s Children’s Service as “inadequate”, Surrey’s Conservative administration has published its plan on Children’s Improvement 2015.

“Inspectors concluded that there were widespread and serious failures that potentially leave children at risk of harm,” said ClIr Hazel Watson, Surrey’s Leader of the Liberal Democrat Opposition. “The Conservative administration has a huge challenge to turn around Surrey’s children’s services.”

Better recruitment and training

The Improvement Plan is a substantial report suggesting a host of actions, including better recruitment and retention of social workers, improved training for children’s services staff, more thorough management oversight and more efficient procedures. The publication of the report is the county’s pathway to the recovery of children’s services.

Liberal Democrats in Surrey will work with the Conservative administration and other political groups to ensure that the improvement plan’s actions are fully implemented.  The special focus will be on recruiting and retaining social workers who are experienced and can provide the best possible service for Surrey’s children. The current vacancy rate is approximately 20 per cent in essential social work teams in Surrey,”

How can time banking help you?

TimebankingFind out at a talk to be given at 10:00, on Tuesday, 14 July, at All Saints Church, Chestnut Avenue, Esher, KT10 8JL.

Within the borough we have a wealth of skills, interests and experience that we can share with each other.  Sharing these things can help to make our society better and Timebanking is a really simple way to make that sharing easy.

Timebanking is all about giving and receiving.  It works by people offering to share a skill, interest, experience or some practical support with other time bank members.  In return they can receive something they want from the time bank.

For example, Tony is 17 and offers to teach older people at the local community centre how to use WiiFit to keep them mobile and active. For every hour Tony puts in he earns one-time credit which he spends on learning new cooking skills from Jan, another time bank member. Everyone’s time is equal. For more information about timebanking please read the attached flyer and visit www.timebanking.org.

To book your place contact Liz Tracey on liz.tracey@surreycc.gov.uk or telephone 020 8541 7020

Grants available to the voluntary sector

Disabled peopleCommunity organisations have until 30 January to submit applications for Elmbridge’s latest round of voluntary sector funding.

Annual grants of up to £3,000 are on offer for use by voluntary, community and faith sector organisations from April 2015. Funding can be provided for equipment, project and running costs and in particular to support vulnerable groups.

Successful organisations have previously received grant funding to promote independent living amongst older people and carers, support people with physical or mental health issues, provide foodbanks and welfare advice, prevent homelessness and social exclusion, and offer access to healthy activity and food, family support, environmental improvement, ethical saving, plus counselling and mediation.

All applications must be received by midday Friday 30 January 2015. Applicants who are successful will be notified by April 2015.  Click here for the borough’s site.

Elmbridge and Skin Cancer

When comparing the quality of life in Elmbridge to that of England as a whole the people of Elmbridge do strikingly well.   In the English benchmark for deprivation (number of people living in an area of the most deprived 20% of the country) Elmbridge scores nil – Kensington and Chelsea scores as poorly as 24% in deprivation as does Westminster.

Elmbridge Health

Three quarters of Elmbridge people are in the top 20% of England and around 90% are in the top half for England. But averages can hide pockets of greatly disadvantaged people in corners of our borough.

You can look at all the health indicators here

In nearly all indicators Elmbridge is in the top quarter.  There are only two indicators whereby Elmbridge is worse than the national average: excess winter deaths and skin cancer.

Could it be that Elmbridge burghers holiday in the sun too often without protecting themselves against the sun’s rays?  For a more detailed summary of Elmbridge folk click on this: Elmbridge Health Profile 2014

New Mayor for Elmbridge

Homestart website

Following his election as Mayor of Elmbridge at the annual meeting of the borough’s council on Wednesday, 4 June, Councillor Barry Fairbank has chosen to support Home-Start Elmbridge during his Mayoral Year.

 

 

Cllr Fairbank, erstwhile leader of the Liberal Democrats at the borough,  represents Long Ditton but now lives in Weybridge.

Councillor Fairbank has been involved with Home-Start Elmbridge for several years and wanted to offer more support with his fundraising during his Mayoral year.

One of the aims of the fundraising for his mayoral year is to be able to train more volunteers to give their help and support to the many families, with a child under five, experiencing difficulties.

In an ideal world Home-Start Elmbridge wouldn’t be needed. But for many parents the pressures of family life are simply too much to cope with alone. There are so many reasons for this including; poverty, illness, family breakdowns and parental isolation.  And this is where Home-Start steps in… by recruiting and training local parent volunteers to offer emotional and practical support to families in their own homes. Home-Start volunteers provide vital early intervention support, often stopping a family from reaching crisis point. Life is getting tougher for many families, and the demand for Home-Start support is at an all-time high.

I think that Cllr Fairbanks choice of charity is excellent and you can donate here on-line. Remember ever little helps.  If you are an income taxpayer then you can even make the national government chip in too.