19/06/2011 The Politics Show East


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Here: Can we afford to look after the region's elderly residents?


Care homes tell us why they can't make ends meet. And why we may not


see so many state of the art affordable homes like these in


Apology for the loss of subtitles for 2227 seconds


Hello and welcome to the part of the programme just for us in the


East. This week: The care for the elderly - big business or an


essential service? We discover why some homes claim


they cannot afford to look after old people. Care homes are


providing 24 hour nursing care. There is no profiteering.


At a bright future for this prospective tenant, but could


developments like these soon be a harder to come by?


But first, the number of older people living in the east is set to


rise dramatically. The high-profile problems of care whole opera --


care home operator Southern Cross have focused attention on the


financial problems facing the sector. Crisis talks with landlords


and banks have saved off the collapse of the company, which has


four months to find a solution to its financial problems. In a


statement, the Department of Health, which has been involved in those


However, there is still a question mark over the quality of care


provided in Southern Cross homes. According to the Care Quality


Commission, of the 60 homes in our region run by the company, 22 have


failed to meet essential standards of quality and safety. Southern


Cross has stressed... But with council budgets being cut and


private providers saying there is no profit in the business, just who


will be looking after the elderly in the future?


There are two things that mum knows for certain. The first one is, no


sugar in my tea, dear, and my room is number four. And now she will


only know one thing, and that is so sad. This lady's bomb at Phillis


will be 94 next month. She has death -- dementia but feels safe


and secure after so many years abyss home. But it is closing.


Lindsey says finding another home near by which is as good is proving


impossible. They have all got waiting lists. We haven't been to


one a single home where, even if it was appropriate for mum, they could


take her. They are waiting - there are eight people in front. But


another one, there were five. company says it is closing this


home for several reasons - its ten- year contract with the local


council runs out in November, but the rooms here are small and have


no on suite facilities, as well. However, residents' relatives are


sceptical. They say one of the company's other homes being


recommended as an alternative has 55 rooms. Less than half of those


are on speed. They feel that the reasons behind this closure are


more financial. They say that the location is a prime site for


redevelopment. The building is owned by the Sanctuary group which


says there has been no decision about the future of the site but


that it will be used to benefit the community. But that does not help


Lyndsey. She faces a dilemma of keeping her mum close by and


compromising on care, or moving her to another home which would mean n


90 mile round trip to visit. It is along journey and it is also the


price of the diesel and penned -- petrol. We are pensioners. It would


mean once a week visiting whereas, now, if I have half-an-hour, I can


pop up and see mum. What you call in on your way back from shopping.


If more care homes disappear, this could be a reality for many others,


leaving residents more isolated from families. At this nursing home,


residents are largely unaware of the financial pressures but across


the region, homeowners are more read. Council cuts have meant that


fees paid to providers have been cut. National Insurance has gone up,


the minimum wage has gone up, insurance is a huge problem. You


can imagine how much it costs to heat and light the people we have.


We said but we reject the reduction, we could not live with it. There


will be huge problems in the care sector. They came back and said but


that was the way it was. This is not the only voice of concern. This


man heads up a national Nursing Home Association and says the days


of care being a money spinner have long gone. Day today, care homes


are providing, at �70 a night, 24 hour nursing care. There is no


profiteering in that. You need to ask why people have stopped


providing. The reason is that they cannot do it any more at the fees


that they want it done at. A bit is predicted that in 25 years from now,


the number of over 60 fires in the East will have risen by 750,000.


The Avon 90s will make up one in 10 of them. -- the over the 90s.


see it happening now and even more in the feature that people will not


be assessed as needing residential care because it is too expensive.


People will not take funding in their own homes because it will


ruin their businesses. The warnings are that the care home sector is


reaching crisis point - that, like the economy, after a period of boom


at the industry is now heading for bust.


Joining me is Baroness Angela Smith, former Labour MP for Basildon,


Colin Noble, a Conservative councillor who is responsible for


adult services for Suffolk Community Council. And from Norwich,


we have a Conservative MP Chloe Smith. Let me start with you. We


head of boom and bust there. Why has such an essential service come


down to a business proposition? think, first of all, it is


acceptable to have private provision. I don't think it is the


right thing for the Times for the public sector to run care homes


alone. It comes down to sustainable businesses. If you take Southern


Cross as an example, it is down to them to make sure they have a


sustainable business model. What happens in the meantime is that the


staff at those homes are absolutely dedicated to care. It is about


staff doing their jobs superlatively well, while the


business around them finds the right way forward. But we are


talking about very vulnerable people. What happens if private


homes stop taking those people that can't pay for themselves? The buck


stops with the council, doesn't it? A absolutely, and it always should.


We sat down with Hillary and her colleagues and discussed our issues


and why we had to cut their rates. While they made a number of


comments, they have not happened as yet and they are still accepting


people that we support. It is an ongoing thing that we have a duty


to get the best value for money for council tax payers. We sit down and


look at all the aspects. We have cut their rates by 4% but that is


money we can go and spend supporting other people. But what


is best for the old people? That is who we are talking about. You have


to think - the family makes a decision that somebody in their


family has to go into residential care. That is a big decision for


them. It is hard. You want the best possible care, and what is


happening now does not give that confidence. A lot of people have


taken a lot of money at a southern cross that should have been spent


on the people who need care. We are right to think that we need every


structure. We can get health and social services and social care


working better together for a lot more preventive care, and support


for people who care for families at home. The idea that a private


company can do what they want with their company when they are caring


for our all the citizens it is completely unacceptable. Country is


a acceptable, clearly Smith? Yes. If they were taking the wrong steps,


that would be an acceptable. Bat is whether Care Quality Commission


have to do their job very well which is to step in and do the


right thing. The other important thing is how we fund social care as


a model in the economy and the overall level. There has to be away


in the future, with larger numbers of old people... How do we do it?


we will have to accept that we will need to pay a bit more when my


generation gets to that age. If you look at Sandwell. They took the


local authority staff on the same pay and conditions, and they are


caring for our older people. But on the minimum wage? I don't like that


at all. Through social enterprise and that working with the local


council, we can care for our older citizens probably. But the private


market can work. In Suffolk, of the 2,800 people that we support, 2,300


of those are in the private sector. They are in the same standard of


homes. You are selling off the remaining 16 council-run homes - or


what is driving that decision? Is it money or a belief that that


decision will create better care? am charged with making sure that we


support people in residential care and in their own homes and across a


range of preventative services. We spend more money in Suffolk are


providing a care bed in our own homes than we do when we buy


exactly the same standard in the private sector - and that is money


I am not so bending on other people or on preventative services. It is


right and proper for councils to look at every aspect of their


spending, to get the best value for money. We have run out of time but


thank you very much indeed, all of you.


From homes for the elderly to housing in general, and fears that


newly-built affordable homes could soon be few and far between. But


coalition has pledged to increase the supply of social housing, but


cut the budget for new affordable homes by roughly half. And figures


obtained by the BBC revealed that the Supporting People budget, which


helps vulnerable people find a home, will drop across the region this


year. The councils say they will do their level best to cut


inefficiency rather than frontline services. But figures show that in


Essex, the budget is down by 16%, and by 12.5% in Hertfordshire. In


central Bedfordshire, the budget is 11% lower, while Suffolk and


Southend authorities will see a 6% drop. In Norfolk and Cambridgeshire,


the cut is around 4%, and in Milton Keynes around 1%. Just what does


the future hold for affordable homes in our region?


These houses seem one answer to their housing drive. The in post-


war Britain, housing was at the forefront of government policy. A


decent home two we rent was a welfare ride along with free


education and health care. By the 1980s, many of them were being


bought up. In Essex, the Pattison family were given the deeds to the


council flat they had rented for more than 20 years. Now tenancies


could last as little as two years if financial service --


circumstances improve. When you make a tenancy dependent on income,


you disincentive eyes people from going out to work to improve their


income because they may be at risk of losing their home. Today, one in


five of us live in social housing paying below market rents. But


there is concern some people are met -- taking advantage. We have to


make sure that those who are the most vulnerable are not paying


their taxes to support the wrong people living in social housing -


those who are not in need but are in a position of comfort and


convenience. We are making sure their housing goes to people who


actually need it, rather than, as has sometimes been the case, people


who needed it at some point but don't currently. Despite that,


there are 153,000 people on the waiting list in the east. This


woman is one of the lucky ones. She had been living in cramped


conditions with their six children but has recently moved into this


four-bedroomed house. Me and the two little ones work slipping on a


safer but we could not all sit together and eat - there was not


enough room. In these houses, there is so much room. By it it is not as


large families that mead and affordable home. Andrew Martin has


come to look round a new social housing complex just finished in


Norwich. He hopes that by paying less rent now, he can save up to


buy the property in the future. is really difficult for people to


get mortgages because of the deposits you have to have. This is


just a way of in a year or two years' time, I will be able to get


on the housing ladder. Board and Housing built this scheme with


almost �2 million of budget if -- government funding. They fear that


it could be a lot harder in the future. This will increase our


private finance borrowings. That means, in the future, we can't


build as many. There is only a finite amount of fear money we can


raise. I can see in the future, the list increasing in size. Another


victim of spending cuts could be supported housing. This scheme in


Suffolk is for people with mental health problems. The government has


already cut grants to provide the service by 12%. Now that money is


no longer ring fenced of a cash- strapped councils could see it as


an easy target though it is proving cost-effective. People come here


and start to use their service, and it could be very costly for


community health teams providing that visiting support if we are not


here any more. The impact of that would be that regular visits and


in-patient stays might occur. Critics say all these changes


together will hit the vulnerable the hardest. So, could the biggest


shake-up of social housing in a generation create more issues than


it is trying to solve? Chloe Smith, let's try and answer that question.


There is the coalition in danger of creating more problems than it is


trying to solve? Social housing and affordable housing are incredibly


important and no one underestimates that. The second thing to say,


however, is there simply is not enough money any more to do what we


want to do. If you raise money, you have to pay it back. The former


government should be ashamed of themselves for having left us in


such a situation. Angela Smith, you should be ashamed of yourself.


Their housing waiting list did grow under Labour. It did and the


recession led to a greater waiting list. It is very difficult to get


everything together but what worries me is what the minister


said there - the idea about having short-term tenancies. I understand


that if you prove you are a good tenant, we are not worried about


you. But to the idea that if you are a couple that marry and have


children and mum goes out to work while that children are at school,


if their income goes above a certain level they could lose their


home. Let's put that 0.2 Chloe Smith. Introduce this tenancy idea


and you do not encourage people to go out and earn money because they


think they will lose their homes. This is a reflection of what has to


happen in the private sector housing market, as well. People


have to live within their means, just as the country does, and with


that many people on the housing waiting list, we can't afford to


have people living in a home they may no longer need. But it is their


home! They do need a home. You can't suggest that because somebody


gets a promotion or gets another job to better themselves, they are


not entitled to their home. But how do you afford it? This is


not about cuts. It is about a different attitude to housing. Bass


is the key thing - getting houses built - about getting people into


homes. But cutting the very basic need that somebody has for their


home is not about money at all. It is about a different attitude to


housing from this government to previous governments. People have a


right to rent and a afford housing, but they do not deserve to be


chucked out of their home because they get a pay rise. Angela would


have to justify that to those people who pay their taxes, and


everyone else who pays their taxes. It is about putting scarce


resources where they are most needed and most people agree with


that. He will have to agree to disagree. Thank you are both very


much indeed for joining us. Don't forget, you can watch the


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