THE ROAR No10 CANNOT IGNORE
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?
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