Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Looking after the sick and elderly

One of the marks of a civilised society is how it looks after those who are less well able to take care of themselves. In many societies this is taken care of by families themselves by an extended family network. It can have its disadvantages, but generally it works and the people involved are all family and tend to have a great deal of respect for those needing the additional care.
In the UK with the breakdown to a degree of families to a singular nuclear unit the state took up some of the slack. Old peoples homes and care homes, some good, some bad, sheltered housing, care in the community etc. all pitch in to make up the difference of our less familocentric society. More people live on their own, more families find they can't or don't want elderly relatives moving in, worse the pensions raid by Labour (thanks Gordon) have left many in a position where their pensions today wont cover a decent quality of life in the future. Problem being of course that whenever the state gets involved, it usually manages to make a mess of things as the Independent points out.

The number of deaths during the coldest three months of the year were up almost 50 per cent on the previous year to 36,700, sending an extra 10,000 pensioners to early graves, new figures showed yesterday.
The rise in "excess winter mortality" for England and Wales for the three months to February was the biggest for years and the highest total in a decade, sparking fresh calls for ministers to combat high energy prices.
In its campaign against the Great Energy Rip-off, The Independent is calling for a 10 per cent cut in fuel prices and powers for the regulator to take action against suppliers who fail to pass on lower wholesale costs.
Announcing the latest figures, the Office of National Statistics pointed out that seasonal flu last winter had been "moderate" but temperatures had been the coldest since 2005. Campaigners said a 40 per cent spike in the price of gas and electricity to £1,310 had exacerbated the situation.
As fuel bills have soared over the past six years, the number of households in "fuel poverty" – defined as having to spend 10 per cent or more of their income on power and heat – has risen five-fold to 6.6 million this year.
Britain has a worse record on winter deaths than colder European states such as Sweden, Norway and Finland. Age Concern, the charity for the elderly, warned that unless heating was made more affordable, further large-scale deaths would occur this winter.
Even the cold weather payment (£250) doesn't come into effect unless 7 days of cold below 0 degrees happens, so few qualify for it. To make matters worse the Department for Energy is halving the budget for the Warm Front Scheme, which funds insulation and heating improvements, from £400m in 2008-09 to £200m in 2010-11. So there's little or no help coming from that direction either.
One of the things the government could do is drop the "green stealth taxes" on energy, it clobbers every household in the land with a £120 per annum surcharge to keep wind turbines standing still in cold weather.
The government could also drop its ridiculous stance on climate change, last years winter was the coldest for a decade, at 3.C, half a degree lower than usual, we need cheap power not expensive unworkable "green" power.
Every year more people are being pushed into fuel poverty by this government, they are often the most vulnerable amongst us. Our society doesn't look civilised from the point of view of looking after those who are less well able to take care of themselves. Politicians in general and Labour in particular are to blame social engineering has torn aside the bonds of family and the provisions put in place by the state are ramshackle and failing. We are all to blame in a sense, we allowed it to happen in our selfish way. But Labour have allowed it to spiral out of control by robbing our pension funds.

4 annotations:

tris said...

It is to all our shame that we have the worst record in Western Europe in relation to deaths from cold.

I know pensioners who sit with coats and scarves on in the worst of the winter (which is even colder in Scotland). I know people who have toast for meals because they can't afford anything more substantial.

To be fair QM, I think that the £250 goes to every pensioner houshold (although there are problems with that in Scotland because we don't operate the same address system as England, and there can be multiple pension families at the same address (a small block of tennement flats).

The cold weather payment is over and above that, but, as you say, very rarely does it come into operation.

MPs might want to reflect on that as they go about switching their homes to ensure that they get the maximum repairs and improvements done at our expense. Ms Smith might want to reflect that many of her constituents would not only love a patio, and a patio heater, but would love to be able to afford to switch the damned thing on.

Sickening country that has enough money to follow Amewrica into any and every war, standing shoulder to shoulder with our special relationship... but cares so little about its own pensioners.

Shame on the UK

subrosa said...

I received my £250 this week. It won't pay two months gas and electric but it's welcome just the same.

Like Tris, I know folks who have toast for meals and sit around all day in coats and boots.

And this is supposed to be one of the richest countries in the world. Pull the other one.

So much for our social services when so many die alone now that we've been brainwashed into being selfish individuals.

scunnert said...

A damned disgrace. The people of the UK are mugs - work all your life for peanuts and freeze to death when you're of no further use. Aye - Labour - the people's party.

tris said...

Pretty well sums it up Scunnert