Posts Tagged ‘Charities’
Even we chicken-keepers have become infected by the need to cut costs. Every one of us own fading bus-passes and rely on our pensions to exist. Some are luckier than others, but those whose sole income is their state pension plus some interest on savings are struggling now that the rate of interest has shrunk to the size of Albert’s string vest. The result is that we have searched around for the cheapest corn and bedding material and discovered that there are savings to be made. Fortunately, we own the ground so there are no major outgoings. Thus any attempt to compare our lot with the national one is false.
At national level key features of our society’s life are being cut to the bone and beyond. Charities, which are supposedly part of the Cameron big-society plan, are closing down in their thousands and essential services for the vulnerable are reaching disintegration. But the cash continues to seep away from the treasury on projects that appear to command little public support. There are many examples such as the billion pounds already invested in bombing Libya, and the £30 billion committed to high-speed rail, but the biggest expenditure of them all is the EU which makes even the level of tax evasion look puny.
Brussels continues to extend its one-state ambitions and its budget. In the past year alone we have handed over over £12 billion, plus a further sum of the same amount to help rescue Greece, Ireland and Portugal. And hardly a day passes but we hear more about the extreme extravagence of the whole structure in which MEP’s make our Westminster lot look paragons of virtue by comparison.
And then there are the hidden costs incurred here as we struggle to conform with endless regulations, and a total loss of control over immigration policy given our inability to control entry from every EU country. Throw in the gigantic waste of rules such as the EU’s Common Fisheries Policy, which the Economics Foundation estimates at £2.7 billion and you have an horrendous picture. All conducted against a background of our law and order system – and basic common sense – being undermined by the EU Convention of Human Rights.
It is when one comes to listing the advanatges of all this expenditure that one struggles. In reality trade with the large European countries would continue whether we were members of the Union or not. So what are the advantages? Unity on defence? Try looking at the response of Germany to Libya or any of them to Afghanistan. Unity on climate change? No sign of it. Unity on Aid? Our contribution exceeds the sum total of all other EU members.
So why have successive governments under Blair, Brown and Cameron refused to seek the verdict of the people? All have promised a referendum, all have wriggled their way out of it. But there are signs that many Brits have had enough. On Saturday the Daily Express launched a petition demanding a referendum. Over 700 people per hour are signing up. The aim is to collect 100,000 signatures which would trigger consideration by the Commons bankbench business committee of a debate by the full House of Commons. A member of that committee (Peter Bone) said that; ” It will be hard for the committee to resist and then we can have a proper debate in Paliament. The British public deserve that”.
The campaign by the Express has already attracted support from over 400,000 people in a postal coupon submission. There seems little doubt that the petition will far exceed the level to trigger a debate on a referendum. If it does what will the politicians do? Both the Conservative and Labour Parties are deeply divided on this, although an impressive number of Tory ministers are openly supporting the campaign, and only the Lib Dems are totally committed to full European integration. Thereby lies Cameron’s dilemna and to obtain a decision by the House he would need to allow a free vote. That would undoubtedly produce support for a referendum on continued membership of the EU.
The prime minister’s inclination would be to duck such a development which, even based on a free vote, would almost certainly result in Clegg and his MP’s leaving the coalition. The extent to which Cameron can do what Blair and Brown did – produce weasel words and do nothing – will depend on the momentum of the Express campaign. The paper doesn’t have the largest readership in the land, but the subject matter may well draw people from every section of the community.
The odds are that you, like me, are not anti-Europe or particularly interested in politics. However, the odds are that, like me, you are sick and tired of the spectacle of cash pouring down a bureaucratic drain whilst vital services here are drained of funds and left to die. Surely the least we should demand is that the people be allowed to decide.
JOIN ME TOMORROW FOR A VERY SPECIAL QUIZ!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
A beautiful morning; the roses are blooming, the row of lavender bushes is scenting the air and there is a shoal of fish on the surface of the shimmering pond. Even the hens are sitting around rather than doing their version of the great escape. So all is well in our world? Not quite. Since our average age is nudging a zillion, it is perhaps not surprising that we take more than a passing interest in the escalating problems surrounding the costs of care for ailing old ‘uns.
In a letter published this morning no fewer than 26 charities have demanded a joint political solution which brings “dignity and respect” to older people no longer able to care for themselves. They have timed this to coincide with the release of the report by Andrew Dilmot, the head of the independent Commission on the Future Funding of Care and Support. It will be officially released tomorrow and is expected to say that maximum costs of care should be capped at between £35,000 and £50,000 per person, or a third of the value of their assets – whichever is less. In other words no one will be expected to use up entirely savings accumulated over a lifetime, or to sell their home.
This is what happens now and it is seen by those who have been more thrifty as unfair. Once the individual has met their more limited financial obligations the state would take over payment but only at the basic rates for care set by local authorities. Those chosing a better quality care would have to meet the extra cost. Hopefully there will be proposals for more vigorous inspections of all homes to avoid a repetition of the scandalous abuse highlighted by the BBC recently.
The proposals are likely to be rather more complex that I am suggesting, and will undoubtedly be controversial. We shall have arguments about people who haven’t made any effort to provide for themselves and arguments about the role of the for-profit private sector. Perhaps we need to remind ourselves that we all hope to live to grow old, and none of us wish to suffer a life-end nightmare. Apart from the super-rich we really are all in this together, hopefully the politicians will, just for once, put aside their point-scoring and come together for the common good.
In this regard yesterday brought some encouraging news. Ed Miliband made a dramatic offer to join in cross-party talks to reform the long term care of the elderly. He made it clear that he has no pre-conditions, no hidden agenda. Take politics out of the situation and expect real progress. Will Cameron accept the offer? He will want to but there will be pressures from his right wing which will argue that the poor deserve what they get. But he must ignore them in the same way that Miliband has presumably faced down his left wing who undoubtedly believe that the rich should pay for the rest. Neither group is worth listening to, the hope for a fair society depends on a realistic and honest approach.
We would all like the elderly to end their days in peace, free of financial worries. But that is impossible unless we change the game and use every option, including insurance. We are all living longer and there is a limit to the amount of tax those still young enough to work can pay.
So for the first time since World War 2 we need a non-political approach, a coming together in common cause, a pooling of ideas. Will it happen? The ball is in Cameron’s court. We all need him to put country before Party. All? Yes, all. You may be congratulating yourself on not being elderly. Believe me, you will be before you can say zimmer-frame. Time has a nasty habit of passing quickly!
ANSWERS TO YESTERDAY’S EGGHEADS QUIZ; 1. Tennis 2. Heart 3. Chris Tarrant 4. Australia 5. Frog 6. Dingle 7. Rot away 8. Five 9. Ten 10. Aberdeen