29/01/2012 Sunday Politics North East and Cumbria


Andrew Neil and Richard Moss with the latest political news, interviews and debate including Danny Alexander, chief secretary to the treasury, on the state of the UK economy.

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I'm here in the North East and Cumbria as council budgets are


squeezed with the elderly and vulnerable priced out of using


Apology for the loss of subtitles for 2027 seconds


vital services. Hello. The warmest of welcomes to


Sunday Politics in the North East and Cumbria. Coming up, how a


squeeze on council budgets means the elderly and vulnerable having


to pay more or lose out altogether on vital services. A special report.


Giving us their views about that and the rest of the week's


political news are Washington MP Sharon Hodgson and North East Euro


MP Fiona Hall. First, is the health gap between


north and south are back to widen? This region has already some of the


worst problems of childhood obesity, heart disease and alcohol-related


deaths. Now Labour says richer areas in the South are benefiting


from the way the Government allocates money.


Seven stops on Newcastle's matcha system but years away in life-


expectancy. In South Gosforth, a man cannot expect to live to 81 but


here it is just 71. That is compared to the national average of


almost 78. I have mainly worked in Brehme areas and what I see is that


patients who come to see me Barbara. I know that about them from their


lives. They tell me. -- they are poorer. They are more ill at an


earlier age. I see people whose material deprivation has translated


into words health, compared to people who live a few miles away.


This week MPs debated health equality. It has changed the


funding formula, reducing the component designed to address


health inequalities. I have been in Parliament for 19 months and I have


raised this question directly with the minister's four times, not


counting written questions. Would that accusation that Gregory has


will get less, there is debate. -- that poorer areas will get less.


will change, improve the chances of people, change their lives. We will


do that by ring-fencing public money, which will be happening for


the first time. With me now is Martin White, professor of public


health at Newcastle University. We know there is some kind of health


divide north side and even within the regions but where are we in


terms of health inequalities in your vista? Health inequalities in


Britain are some of the wild -- widest in the world, certainly in


developed countries. They have widened over a prolonged period.


The North East has some of the poorest health in Britain, as he


have said, and that situation does not seem to be getting better.


However, there is some positive news. If you look at, for example,


rates of current heart disease, those appeared to be going down in


the North East, bucking the trend elsewhere in the country. So it is


a complicated picture and there are some positive bits of news. There


is his political tram over funding and Labour say funding is cut in


areas like the North East. -- this political row. It is really


important part funded for public health is not clubs and that the


total amount of budget remains as large as it has been. One of the


key difficulties is that public health, it has been close that is


moving to local Government. When you get any kind of we are


organisation there is huge cost associated. -- the reorganisation.


We cracked down on smokers and that has made some difference in the


North East. Do we need to take the same approach on fast food and


alcohol? This legislation help? ten people what to do does not work.


They are all kinds of roses people have to make in regard to their


behaviour but the evidence we have suggests that behaviour is very


much determined by social environment in which people live


and we have to make positive steps to try to influence that


environment to help people make healthier choices. Thank you. Let's


put this to our politicians. Fiona Hall, you cannot dispute that the


Government has cut the waiting list on public health which benefits


areas like the North East like -- with lower life expectancy. That


will not help the North-South divide, with it? That money going


to local authorities will be ring- fenced. Our problem is the issue of


equality has gone on for a long time and despite the fact there was


money put into the NHS under Labour, they eat more back for a long time.


There are criticised by the Audit Commission for having not tackle


the question of inequality. By ring-fencing the money and giving


it to local authorities it is a means of actually coming in at the


grassroots and doing something. this adjustment, which means that


the waiting has changed, so that potential, those in the staff might


do better. But if the money is coming in bandages ring-fenced,


that is money we can use for that. -- the South might be better.


do not put the money in for Prevention, we will have a huge


problems later on and continue to have inequality. Sharon Hodgson,


the money is being ring-fenced and the Conservatives say Labour cut


the money. What the Conservatives have done is a change how the money


will be shared out, and the North East will get less than his son


would have done under Labour. will get more than last year.


necessarily, they are giving be money to the local authorities but


they do not ring-fenced everything else in local authority budget,


like the money for Sure Start and the local -- early intervention


grant. That money went to things like and rage pregnancies and


under-aged drinking. The councils have less money. Do your


constituents really not know that drinking too much, eating the wrong


kind of food, harms your health? suppose they do put none of the


bodies... Like Cabot Circus afresh. It is paid for by a BBC Tees but


PCT is have been abandoned. -- like the organisation Fresh, paid for by


PCTs. More people in the North East die from smoking than other


regions... We must move on. Fiona Hall, where did you stand on this?


The Health Minister said individuals have to take


responsibility for your own health. For that to happen they need help


and they need good local schemes and that is what this money going


into local authorities will help to do. I agree we have had some good


pilots in the North East and now local authorities have the


opportunity to put money behind them. As Martin White said, do we


need more legislation, or stopping people smoking, drinking and eating


too much? It is a combination. You cannot do it just by legislation.


There are some things we can do at a legislative level but a lot of it


is about the personal, face-to-face contact with people on the brand


and that is why the money going into local authorities is important.


Almost two-thirds of local councils are put in their social care budget.


That is according to a survey published by the Commons health


committee this week. They all said and that charges are rising for


vital services. -- they also said. Norma and Jean are on a regular


trip. They both look on their own in Darlington. Sometimes they can


go weeks without seeing anyone but today is a good one because they


are making a trip to see friends at a day centre. It is very important


because otherwise I would not be getting out. But coming here is


getting more expensive for Norma and Jean. Both are now paying their


council more for use of the centre. A few months ago, Jean was paying


nothing. Now she has to stump up �60 a month. Can you tell me why?


If it goes a penny more I am afraid I will have to stop coming. Things


could be a bad to get even more expensive. Many councils used to


have weekly which emits -- weekly limits for services but that is


changing. Darlington, Middlesbrough and North Yorkshire have already


scrapped their care -- pack on day- care charges. As council budgets


are squeezed, other councils want to follow suit. Cumbria Council


wants to remove the cap in the next three years. I think it is a false


economy. In the long run, the councils will end up and the PCTs


will end up paying more. People will be isolated, lonely... They


expect everything to be cradle to the grave and do not understand why


they are having to pay for what they thought was help. What Peter


does not understand is why his charges have gone up 400 %. He


looks after his wife, who has Alzheimer's. Two years ago, the


couple were paying �10 to Darlington Council for a session at


the local day centre. Now it is �50. The councils look at us as the easy


option. We all know panels are trying to save money but if they


only stopped to think for a minute how it alters people's lives, going


from �10 to �50 in six months, it is an average. But at the local


council, they are facing large cuts. They say they have no choice but to


increase charges because the Government is not giving them


enough money. The money that has come from Government would keep us


standing still. They are not making allowances for increased demand. We


have people with very complex needs. They want people to remain in the


community, in their own homes and as Boris possible, prevent them


from going into hospital. Well, there is a cost to that. But the


Government's says... The Government specifically committed over the


life of this Parliament to put an edition -- additional �7.2 billion


in to help social care. Always to help the quality of service and


reduce the cost of service. Everyone agrees services like this


are important. The question is, how do we continue to pay for them?


Sharon Hodgson, the dangers appear to be finding ways of raising extra


money by charging some of the most vulnerable people? I would hope


councils are not using people as easy targets. The reality is


councils have lost 25 %, in most cases, of their budget. Councils


have this money. They have had huge cuts and are having to make these


decisions. I would hope my cancer will not be doing things like this


aren't I will be looking closely at that. But a lot of people would say


there are lots of things you could tackle rather than increased


charges. The Government is putting in �7 billion. But at the same time


they have taken so much out on other budgets, so when the


councillors are looking across the whole budget it is how they can


make everything add up. It is robbing Peter to pay Paul all the


time so I would wish that this was not the situation. I think it is


incumbent upon all politicians to work and look closely at their


local council to ensure it is not the most vulnerable people who are


suffering. So this is a product of Government cuts rather than


councils making these decisions? Councils have motorways? What you


can see is different local authorities are approaching this in


different ways. One has put a cap on daily charges for people below a


Downley -- a certain income. Below about Ready �3,000. So the poorest


people, those least able to be able to cope with our charges... But the


majority of councils are putting charges up. Councils need to look


at how, in very difficult times, with cuts we would not want to have


put have to have, and all parties agree, we would make sure these


people least able to cope on the one that of protected. So in


schemes like Northumberland, where they make sure that the least well


off people are not the ones who suffer at the big charges. We are


all having to pay more for all sorts of things. Some older people


probably can afford a bit more. That is what Fiona is saying, as


long as these charges are means tested to the certain extent and


the most vulnerable or poorest have the smallest proportion to pay, I


think we would say that was fair. But is that happening? I do not


know. We have do go away and make sure it is. The main problem is we


are all living longer. As a society and a Government, we need to look


at this grisly for the future going forward. In 20 years' time there


will be another 2 million pensioners requiring social care


and... Nobody has wrestled with this problem. We tried in this last


Parliament but the talks broke down, as we know, famously, between the


three parties. The Tories did those all for billboard posters with


tombstones... That is the key point, but we need answers because this is


the problem but will continue. is why it is so good that some


councils are being innovative in the way they are tackling this.


you mention Northumberland again I may have to stop you! There are


councils looking into ways of keeping people in their own homes,


looking a long and hard at some of the facilities which were under-


used and seeing that they can help people better. What else has been


Sunderland has come but some of the league table for new business


start-ups. Four times as many businesses were started by a person


in London and on the Weir. The verge of a Lords committee wants to


avoid repeated scenes like these. North East firms are doing a bit


for the Olympic Games according to the Culture Secretary, in Gateshead


this week. Companies in the North East have been entrepreneurial. If


you take some of our most iconic Olympic venues, in the stadium, the


group was kept from a company in Newcastle. Elections for


Newcastle's a new city mayor have been brought forward to November


15th but first they have to be a yes vote in the referendum. And


motorists in the North East are frustrated by the failure to draw


the A1. They are told to take the Sharon Hodgson, have any companies


in your constituency managed to get any work out of the Olympics?


is certainly one from Sunderland, handsome building products. There


is one from Gateshead, International Paint. They have


supplied the paint for the aquatic centre. Is it enough? Nowhere near.


It is only �100 million worth of contracts out of �16.2 billion.


Fiona Hall, the allegation is that we are not really getting... It is


crumbs on the table. It is a big event and we need to look at the


big picture. Until now I have kind of turned my back and thought, this


is all happening in London, but I was there on Monday and it is


impressive and I think it will boost the image of the country as a


whole and that is good for North East businesses as well. It is not


all happening in London. There are football matches up here. But there


are places where there are concerns that rather than their being a


tourism bonanza, it will put people off. I think it might be people of


going to London. Let's hope they come to the North East instead.


Really? Isn't the reality that if you go to London you go to the


Olympics? Some people are not sporty at all and probably will go


to other parts of the country but I think the vast majority of people


going to London will stay in London and not venture anywhere else.


you got tickets? Not yet. I had to get some through the resale prices.


I am trying to ban the resale of tickets on the secondary market.


have heard the top tip is applied for tickets for the Paralympics


because there was still some of those available.


Thank you. I have got tickets. I am not


looking to smoke, and why? Did take a look at my blog. More on elected


mayors and other issues. You can also follow me on Twitter. My blog


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