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.