‘How we care for the old, sick and vul­ner­a­ble is a mea­sure of our so­ci­ety’

Huddersfield Daily Examiner - - NEWS -

care, which he said takes pri­or­ity over all other front­line ser­vices.

In a town hall de­bate last­ing over an hour, coun­cil­lors dif­fered on what ac­tion was needed to solve the grow­ing cri­sis.

Vet­eran Labour mem­ber, Clr Peter McBride, called for gov­ern­ment ac­tion.

“This prob­lem isn’t unique to us,” he said. “The mea­sure of a civilised so­ci­ety is how it cares for its old, sick and vul­ner­a­ble.

“The cost of care is so much our ex­pen­di­ture, un­less the gov­ern­ment de­cides to fund it prop­erly we in Kirklees will have no money to do any­thing other than that.”

But sev­eral coun­cil­lors said throw­ing money at the ser­vice was not the so­lu­tion.

Kirklees Tory chief, Clr David Hall, said no gov­ern­ment over the past 30 years had done any­thing be­cause it was such a com­plex is­sue with the so­lu­tions “po­ten­tially un­pop­u­lar’.’

Fel­low Con­ser­va­tive, Birstall and Birken­shaw’s Clr Liz Smaje, said pre­ven­tion work had “got lost’.’

In­de­pen­dent coun­cil­lor Edgar Hol­royd-Dove­ton, said: “We should re­serve some of our re­sources to fa­cil­i­tate, stim­u­late and act as cat­a­lyst for com­mu­nity ac­tiv­i­ties that help as pre­ven­tion and not a cure.”

Deputy leader of the Con­ser­va­tives, Clr John Tay­lor, said he had been a carer to his late mother and still cared for his dis­abled brother.

“We need to think about what more we can do in our com­mu­ni­ties to sup­port peo­ple for longer in their own homes,” he said.

But lead­ers of three par­ties dis­agreed and said the huge cash short­age was the main is­sue.

Green Party chief, Clr An­drew Cooper, said: “The prob­lem is so huge that if we were given £5m or £10m, would it make any dif­fer­ence?

“We know we’re nowhere near prop­erly funded to deal with this prob­lem and adult so­cial care has an im­pact on every­thing we do.

“The huge cost of it is putting pres­sure on every­thing else we do.

“All th­ese other things men­tioned are just tin­ker­ing. We’re patently fail­ing to look after our older peo­ple.

“The gov­ern­ment is dis­tracted from every­thing other than Brexit.

“We’ve got to put this ahead of £100bn mis­siles and £50bn HS2 – let’s get this right and get it up the agenda.”

Sev­eral Con­ser­va­tive coun­cil­lors urged that the sub­ject was not used as a “po­lit­i­cal foot­ball.”

For­mer Tory leader, Clr Robert Light, said: “It can’t be a po­lit­i­cal foot­ball be­cause it’s too damn im­por­tant.

“I think the is­sue is so big, it’s big­ger than money. It’s about the whole so­cial fab­ric of how we do things.”

But Lib Dem leader, Clr Ni­cola Turner, said: “This is po­lit­i­cal – it’s about who pays. If we’re go­ing to look after peo­ple it’s go­ing to cost money.”

Clr Sheard said he didn’t think the “vast ma­jor­ity” of coun­cil­lors were aware of all the things the coun­cil was do­ing to help the dis­abled and el­derly.

He said: “We should not fall for the myth that we need to be more ef­fi­cient and that solves the prob­lem.

“We are go­ing to be cut­ting an­other £5m or £6m from the ser­vice.

“We want to the best, most ef­fi­cient ser­vice we can, what­ever gov­ern­ment we have.

“But we need the gov­ern­ment to solve the prob­lem of fund­ing long term so­cial care.”

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