The vulnerable in our society

By Leon A Smith
May 24, 2013

There was a lot of reaction recently to the Queen’s Speech – rather more about what was left out the Queen’s Speech than was in it. It’s quite interesting to observe that the number of Bills which this government has been putting through Parliament has significantly reduced from previous governments and there has even been a suggestion that members of the House of Commons are not over stressing due to the pressure of work. It seems bizarre that so much parliamentary time is taken up discussing issues such as gay marriage or indeed issues around the EU – when there is so much that needs to be done and could be done for the vulnerable in our society. One of the pieces of legislation that was referred to in the Queen’s Speech was that legislation which will relate to the funding of older people.

The government is currently putting together a consultative group to look at in detail how the implementation of the Dilnot recommendations are going to work in practice. I have said previously, that I believe when it comes to implementation of this legislation we will need to be watching extremely carefully to see what exactly goes in and what doesn’t go in. I still very much hope that my cynicism and scepticism will prove to be unfounded.

It is also interesting to see that the Labour Party has now decided that they are also going to set up their own committee to look into related matters. This means that should the Labour Party win with a clear majority in the next Election, that they will be immediately ready to snap into action in relation to the funding of care of older people during the first weeks that they are in office. The same comments regarding cynicism apply.

My point is that as a society we seem to be spending far too much time debating matters which are of peripheral interest and importance. The gay marriage issue particularly is not one that either interests and/or affects the vast majority of the population. The question of whether or not we should remain in the EU has significantly more far reaching implications for our economy and for our nation – but it has to be accepted that this is really not an issue which preoccupies the vast majority of the population on a day to day basis. Yet matters which really do matter to real people face stiff competition for air time and of course when matters relating to older people do make it onto the pages of our newspapers or the screens of our TVs it is usually with a negative connotation – ie it is presented in the form of a problem. Older people are not a problem – they are a reality. More of us are living to a greater age and there will be more and more people in need of care. A relatively small cut from our defence budget would solve this “problem” for many years to come.

We live in the “media age” and therefore politicians are under constant scrutiny to “do the right thing”. This often results in knee jerk reaction and/or decisions being made on the basis of politics rather than on true believe or need. We might even assume that if thousands of older people were to take to the streets and/or to fill Trafalgar Square protesting about older people’s rights and issues, that there actually might be a reaction from government to their demands. The answer however is that this simply is not going to happen. In theory the only means open for older people to express their views is therefore at the ballot box – the problem is that none of the main Parties have anything creative and/or exciting to offer. All they really seem to be interested in is the status quo. Albeit for many of us, this is simply not acceptable.

The more perceptive of my readers may feel a vague sense of déjà vu and I apologise not for the fact that this is a recurring theme – simply because it is one that is so important to this generation of older people and to future generations, ie us.

As I have said before, this is not a problem which is going away.


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