Two important events happened to me yesterday evening, I was boosted and I heard the news that the Commons had passed the first reading of the social care bill. As this is a personal blog, I feel entitled to conflate the two and try to explain to myself how I feel being a UK citizen in a post Brexit world watching many of our neighbors lock down. I am also writing as a son of an 89 year old healthy mother who lives in her own house.
This blog considers the Health and Care Bill – a consequence of the pandemic and suggests that while we are winning the war on Covid, we are losing the peace – by messing up on Care
Jabs are the new normal
First let me tell you about being boosted. My jab happened downstairs in a Boots (120 Fleet Street). My first jab had been on the other side of Hackney in a converted school, my second in Guys Hospital, this felt very routine. “would you like a flu-jab while you’re here?“, “you’re getting Pfizer, it goes well with your Oxfords“.
“When will it be on my app?” asked the bloke in front of me, he told me through his mask that he’d never used his phone for anything but calls till the pandemic.
This was my third jab in a week, I’d had routine “bloods” for ongoing conditions and a flu-jab. Until two years ago , I would go years without an injection, only troubling the needle for overseas travel.
On my way to Boots , I’d been listening to a World Service program about “vaccine hesitancy” in Europe. In the Netherlands, Germany and Austria they don’t take kindly to being told to get jabbed. They don’t take kindly to lockdowns either
If this was a financial chart, we’d be praising the UK line for its lack of volatility. But it’s not just that. I went to a pensions conference last week where I now know one of the delegates had Covid. One of the delegates at the PLSA investment conference in March 2020 has also declared they had Covid. I shudder at my proximity to the infection in March 2020, but shrug at the news from November 2021. This is why
I no longer consider getting Covid-19 either likely or deadly. We can look back over the past 18 months with grief and fortitude, and accept that we have much to be thankful for.
We are learning to live with Covid as BAU because so many of us have had it, or had the boost or at least had two jabs. This is not a call for complacency, but for continued stoicism. We are a very compliant nation that has followed advice from our Government. At last, we seem to be getting ahead of the curve and I feel boosted in more ways than one.
The worst mistake made in the UK was to allow Covid to kill so many of our elderly in homes. This mistake was the result of a conscious or sub-conscious bias summed up in the view that the elderly “will die soon anyway“. Stuart McDonald wrote very feelingly on this in the early months of the first lockdown, showing statistically how heartlessly wrong this phrase was.
We owe our elderly a debt of care that was not shown when so many were taken from hospitals into homes to die and infect others.
Out of our increased awareness (and possibly collective guilt) we have a Health and Care Bill which has made it to its first reading . Here is what it will mean to individuals and families when someone needs long term care.
- anyone with assets of less than £20,000 will not have to pay anything towards the cost of help with things like washing and dressing at home or a stay in a care home from October 2023
- those with more than £100,000 in assets – the value of their home, savings or investments – pay everything up to a maximum of £86,000
- people with assets of £100,000 (the cap) or less can qualify for council help to pay but the new change means they will eventually have to pay up to £86,000 out of their own pocket too
The cap will work like this
- Every adult receiving care will have an account measuring how much they spend on care fees from their own income or assets
- Those with total assets worth more than £100,000 will have to pay all the care fees themselves
- Once assets fall below £100,000, people will be able to claim means-tested payments from their council to help with costs
- If they cannot pay for care from their income, they will have to contribute £1 for every £250 they have in assets
- Care home fees – such as for food and rent – will not count towards the £86,000 limit but will be capped at £200 a week
- People with assets under £20,000 won’t have to contribute to their care costs, although they might have to contribute from their income.
There is no doubt that care still poses a huge threat to people’s later life financial security and to the prospect of “trickle-down” wealth to their families. What is at issue is where the pain lands
Other parts of the package (the much more generous means test) do benefit those with fewer assets. But the change being voted on today only affects the operation of the cap, meaning that many with modest assets can now lose almost everything (down to £20k)
— Torsten Bell (@TorstenBell) November 22, 2021
Boosted but deflated
We can’t win the war on Covid but lose the peace on Care. What we need is a just settlement. This from Mel Stride, Chair of the Treasury Select Committee in a letter to the Chancellor
Let’s hope that the Lords, led by Ros Altmann, can solicit this information and make sure that we do not lose the peace , by implementing an unfair Act that treats the wealthy with kid gloves and the not so wealthy with an iron fist.