An as­ton­ish­ing 356,000 signed our pe­ti­tion to end the de­men­tia care scan­dal. As we hand it to Down­ing St, will PM now de­liver on his prom­ise?

Daily Mail - - Front Page - By Eleanor Hayward Health Re­porter

THE voices of 356,000 Mail read­ers were heard in Down­ing Street yes­ter­day as our de­men­tia care pe­ti­tion was handed in to Boris John­son.

We are call­ing on the Prime Min­is­ter to hon­our his pledge to fix a bro­ken sys­tem that forces count­less pen­sion­ers to sell their homes to fund crip­pling care costs.

Since its launch in July, our pe­ti­tion has been backed by prom­i­nent fig­ures such as Sir Michael Parkin­son and Dame Judi Dench. Health Sec­re­tary

Matt Han­cock yes­ter­day praised the Mail for high­light­ing the is­sue and promised the Govern­ment was work­ing on a plan of ac­tion.

The pe­ti­tion was started by Sharon Mu­ranyi, a 59-year-old Mail reader who was forced this year to sell the cot­tage of her 92-year- old fa­ther Fred Hick­man to pay for his de­men­tia care. Yes­ter­day, she went to Down­ing Street to hand in the sig­na­tures along with Jill Med­lock, who had to sell her fam­ily home and spend £450,000 on de­men­tia care for her par­ents.

They were joined at No 10 by Jeremy Hughes of the Alzheimer’s So­ci­ety, TV pre­sen­ter An­gela Rip­pon, whose mother died of de­men­tia in 2009, and Sarah Vine and Eleanor Hayward of the Mail.

Mrs Mu­ranyi said: ‘The sup­port from all the read­ers of the Daily Mail has been in­cred­i­ble.

‘The Govern­ment must lis­ten to us all and take ac­tion. My fa­ther and thou­sands oth­ers like him de­serve bet­ter.’

Mr Han­cock said he ‘un­der­stands the sense of in­jus­tice’, adding: ‘ My mes­sage to Mail read­ers is that we are do­ing the work right now to try to tackle these in­jus­tices.

‘We need to be a coun­try where peo­ple have dig­nity and sup­port in their old age with­out the threat of hav­ing to sell their own home.

‘I un­der­stand why peo­ple have that emo­tional con­nec­tion to their home. I en­tirely un­der­stand why peo­ple feel so strongly about it and I want to help find the so­lu­tion.’

Mr Han­cock echoed the Mail’s call for a cross-party so­lu­tion, but said he did not know whether a so­cial care plan would be in the Con­ser­va­tive’s elec­tion man­i­festo.

‘There’s big ben­e­fits to do­ing this on a cross­party lines,’ he said. ‘We’re look­ing for a so­lu­tion to bring peo­ple to­gether.’ Boris John­son vowed to ‘fix the cri­sis in so­cial care once and for all’ in his first speech as Prime Min­is­ter, but no de­tailed plans have been re­leased.

Last night, char­i­ties said the huge re­sponse to the Mail’s pe­ti­tion demon­strated why the Govern­ment could not put off so­cial care re­form any longer.

Mr Hughes said: ‘Too many peo­ple af­fected by de­men­tia are left fac­ing im­pos­si­ble costs for care and a daily bat­tle to get the care and sup­port their loved ones so des­per­ately need.

‘More peo­ple’s life sav­ings are run­ning out, more peo­ple with de­men­tia are stuck need­lessly in hos­pi­tal, which un­nec­es­sar­ily uses valu­able NHS re­sources and hurts fam­i­lies – and the sit­u­a­tion is only get­ting more des­per­ate. This can­not go on – it must not go on.

‘The Prime Min­is­ter promised he would sort out the so­cial care cri­sis once and for all. But so far we haven’t seen a sin­gle step fur­ther in terms of de­tailed plans. Peo­ple af­fected by de­men­tia de­serve so much bet­ter. Our plea to the Prime Min­is­ter and his Govern­ment is – don’t let peo­ple with de­men­tia down. This shock­ing state of af­fairs sim­ply can’t con­tinue.’

Miss Rip­pon, 74, who is an am­bas­sador for the Alzheimer’s So­ci­ety, said: ‘ Wit­ness­ing my mother’s bat­tle with de­men­tia taught me how cruel a dis­ease this is. Peo­ple with de­men­tia and their fam­i­lies de­serve much bet­ter sup­port.

‘Why should they face ad­di­tional bat­tles be­cause they de­vel­oped de­men­tia rather than any other health con­di­tion?

‘ I hope the out­rage demon­strated by over 300,000 Daily Mail read­ers will force the Govern­ment to re­spond with a plan of ac­tion to fix de­men­tia care. We need a firm com­mit­ment to sort out so­cial care for once and for all so ev­ery­one go­ing through de­men­tia can get good care with­out hav­ing to sell their home to pay for it.’

The Mail wants to end a scan­dal that means any­one with more than £23,250 in as­sets – in­clud­ing the value of their home – has to pay the full cost of their care, which can reach £100,000 a year.

We are also de­mand­ing an end to the dis­grace­ful di­vide that means care home res­i­dents who pay their own bills face charges that are £21,000 higher than those funded by the state.

Labour MP Deb­bie Abra­hams, co-chair­man of the all-party par­lia­men­tary group on de­men­tia, said: ‘The in­jus­tice of peo­ple bat­tling to get care, on top of bat­tling the dev­as­tat­ing ef­fects of de­men­tia can’t go on and the Prime Min­is­ter must lis­ten and act quickly to end the care cri­sis.’

‘Shock­ing state of af­fairs’

WAS this the day all hope of a Brexit deal died? With Eu­ro­pean lead­ers launch­ing a full-frontal as­sault on Boris John­son’s ‘take it or leave it’ pro­posal, the chances of a ne­go­ti­ated set­tle­ment are cer­tainly look­ing van­ish­ingly slim.

Af­ter months of say­ing they would con­sider al­ter­na­tives to the Irish back­stop, it now seems the EU had no in­ten­tion of do­ing so. Ger­man Chan­cel­lor An­gela Merkel’s lan­guage was es­pe­cially re­veal­ing. Some­times seen as an emol­lient fig­ure, yes­ter­day she was cold and un­equiv­o­cal.

A deal was ‘over­whelm­ingly un­likely’ she said, un­less North­ern Ire­land stayed in a cus­toms union ‘for­ever’. And they say Boris should get se­ri­ous!

As Theresa May said more than two years ago, no British prime min­is­ter could ac­cept a deal which split the Prov­ince from the rest of the UK in this way.

Quite apart from splin­ter­ing the Union, it would be a griev­ous breach of the Good Fri­day Agree­ment.

Mrs Merkel may still be hop­ing the Re­main al­liance can over­turn Brexit. But if not, her po­si­tion makes No Deal a cer­tainty and she must shoul­der that re­spon­si­bil­ity.

In­evitably Eu­ro­pean Coun­cil Pres­i­dent Don­ald Tusk also weighed in with his usual bom­bast, ac­cus­ing Mr John­son of play­ing ‘a stupid blame game’.

But in­tem­per­ance was not the ex­clu­sive pre­serve of the EU. A leaked text from Down­ing Street (ap­par­ently writ­ten by the Prime Min­is­ter’s no­to­ri­ously com­bat­ive chief of staff Do­minic Cum­mings) was even more an­tag­o­nis­tic.

It said Par­lia­ment was ‘as pop­u­lar as the clap’ and sin­cere co­op­er­a­tion with the EU was ‘in the toi­let’.

Have we re­ally stooped so low? Has the voice of diplo­macy at the heart of Govern­ment given way to this crass lan­guage of bel­liger­ence and threat?

This cor­ro­sive pol­lu­tion of the po­lit­i­cal dis­course must stop.

Not only does it make any prospect of reach­ing a deal less likely, it of­fends large num­bers of nat­u­ral Tories – and po­ten­tial con­verts to the Tory cause.

So is it now a choice be­tween No Deal and No Brexit? Or, in­fin­itely worse, could it be No Deal or Jeremy Cor­byn?

Chief plan­ner Michael Gove said No Deal prepa­ra­tions are well ad­vanced and a new set of UK tar­iffs was pub­lished for the event of a crash-out.

The leaked text fur­ther sug­gested that the Govern­ment was ready to fight a gen­eral elec­tion on the plat­form of ‘ get Brexit done im­me­di­ately’ – ef­fec­tively leav­ing with­out a deal.

Yes, this would suck in the Brexit party vote – but also alien­ate moderates. It is ex­tremely high-risk.

We are at the precipice. But be­fore hurtling over in a Gadarene stam­pede, all sides should al­low the adren­a­line to sub­side and take a deep breath.

As the In­sti­tute for Fis­cal Stud­ies said yes­ter­day, a No Deal Brexit would push UK debt to £100bil­lion a year. The ail­ing euro­zone would be tipped into re­ces­sion and Ire­land would be in­stantly beg­gared. Mr John­son and Irish pre­mier Leo Varad­kar are to hold last-ditch talks this week in a bid to sal­vage a deal. Both still want one and say they are pre­pared to lis­ten to pos­si­ble so­lu­tions.

For all our sakes, we must pray they can pull us back from the cliff-edge. AN in­cred­i­ble 356,000 Mail read­ers pe­ti­tioned Down­ing Street yes­ter­day to end the heart­break­ing scan­dal of de­men­tia suf­fer­ers hav­ing to sell their homes to pay for care. Health Sec­re­tary Matt Han­cock praised our long-stand­ing cam­paign, say­ing he un­der­stands the sense of in­jus­tice and is de­ter­mined to tackle it. We have no cause to doubt his good faith. But fine words must now be fol­lowed by de­ci­sive and ef­fec­tive ac­tion.

Spe­cial de­liv­ery: Sarah Vine, Jill Med­lock, Eleanor Hayward and An­gela Rip­pon at No 10

Open door (from left): The Mail’s Sarah Vine; Jill Med­lock and Sharon Mu­ranyi who led the pe­ti­tion; a No 10 po­lice of­fi­cer; Eleanor Hayward of the Mail; An­gela Rip­pon, who is an am­bas­sador for the Alzheimer’s So­ci­ety, and its chief ex­ec­u­tive Jeremy Hughes

July 19

Au­gust 7

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