26/06/2011 The Politics Show North East and Cumbria


Jon Sopel and Richard Moss are here with the top political stories of the week.

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Here: Councils under fire for closing down their residential care


homes. After Southern Cross, should they step in to protect older


people? Fluff and respected Teesside MP who


wants to ban parents of young children from smoking in the car.


Apology for the loss of subtitles for 2512 seconds


Hello and a very warm welcome to your local part of the show. Coming


up: Should parents travelling with young children in the car be banned


from smoking? We talk to the North East MP who wants to change the law.


But we start with an issue that has been dominating the headlines -


care of the elderly. It was not long ago that many residential care


homes in Cumbria and the North East were owned and run by local


councils. But in recent years they have


mostly been closed down or sold off, the residents moved into privately


run homes. At the time, some relatives


protested it - amid warnings of what might go wrong. So after


events at Southern Cross, have the critics been proved right?


Protesters taken Durham County Council as it decides to close care


homes. They decided to move the mother of Ann Dryden who is in will


stop the day she left - it was awful. The staff were in tears and


she was in tears. Not just for her but for other people as well who


were leaving. We pick the care home she is in now because her friends


were going. A year on the is fresh uncertainty because the home she


has been moved to it belongs to Southern Cross. I must stress that


the home she is in, she's taken very good care of. But it is a


private business and it is for profits. Once the profits go, how


do they manage the care? Would it be the same? It is just worrying


and it is worrying for all the other people who have relatives in


the care home. I cannot think what will happen if she has to move


again, she is 93 and quite frail. The council home she loved is now


boarded up husk. She believes the council has let older people down


by leaving residential care to the private sector but councils claim


they have no choice. It. Two harsh economics. Durham County Council


says it cost up to �1,000 a week to house an older person in one of


their own homes. Contrast that with the private sector who only charged


up to 480p a week for the same order Pehrson. That is a powerful


incentive for councils to close homes. -- older person. Most


councils are now concentrating on centres like this one at Newcastle


which provides emergency care and short stays. The council here


believes the fewer homes should be in hands of the profit-driven.


Local authorities have not been in the care home business for 20 years


now. I do not see local authorities directly to in that in the future.


However, I think they have a key role to stimulate the development


of new kinds of provision, working with third sector organisations,


social enterprise and co-operatives to develop not for profit models


which achieve the objectives of providing good quality care but do


not syphon off large amounts of profit. The council still has a


problem - even in a privately run care home like this one, they pay


the fees. Private operators say the Hague -- the council refuses to pay


the full cost of care, they are freezing payments and causing


problems. Councils are setting a fee rate which is picked up out of


the ear. It matches their budget and does not relate to real cost


and the margin necessary to do the cost -- do the job property --


properly. The underpayment can be into six figures. Over 100,000 and


that is a lot of money for one individual home to be short of.


Where does that leave the future? The charity which represents old


people believes we are heading for more crisis unless the government


finds more extra money. Certainly, Age UK reckons that in 2014, the


government will be spending two and an �50 million less than they spent


in 2004 on care for older people. We as the government to commit up


to �3 billion to prevent the covers system from collapsing. That threat


of collapse has prompted calls for local authorities and the


government to take action to protect older people.


Let us talk now to the Labour MP for Washington and Sunderland West,


Sharon Hodgson and the Conservative Euro-MP for the North East, Martin


Callanan. Was it a mistake to allow the private sector to care for


older people? I have a five care homes caring for people in my


constituency. What matters is what happens now. We are where we are


and we need to look to the future. We need to look at new models...


Was it a mistake? We are looking at relying on the private-sector - for


councils to get out of this situation and all the risks for


people like Southern Cross. If you want to look back, you have to go


back to the 1990s when compulsory tendering was brought in. 85 % of


government money that was sent from the government to local councils


had to be spent in the private sector. When we came in in 1997 we


scrap this mandate and said there had to be a more level playing


field. In 2000, we scrapped their compulsory tendering... You did


nothing to prevent the closure of homes. We brought in best-value so


it was not about going for the cheapest option but for best value.


OK, I accept you. But what about the future? Andy Burnham in the


last government tried to work across parties with the Lib Dems


and the Conservatives on a National Care Service. I think we still need


to look at that. We need to work together. We cannot. Score on this.


The care over elderly is far too important for this. We need to work


together and find a way which works for all of us. What it


Conservatives think? A lot of people say profit should not play a


part in providing care for older people, what do you think? I do not


agree with that. The reality is they are good homes and the private


sector and their bad homes and the public sector, we all know examples


of that. It is about getting the right Regulation, the right here


and the appropriate regulation in place and enforcing those standards.


Isn't the end result being driven by profit meaning more Southern


Cross and more crisis? I do not accept this logic. There are some


very good privately owned care homes. I know a lot of them in the


North East. It is about putting the appropriate regulation in place. We


have to look at the cost of things and get best value for the money we


spend as taxpayers because these places are expenses -- expensive.


Our all people deserve good quality care and that can be put in place


by the appropriate register -- legislation. Councils are not


providing the full cost of care here, they are cutting funding to


some of the Most Honourable people in the community. The councils have


had their funding cut by central government. But they have choices.


What we have to do is make sure no Southern Cross can happen again.


When you hear that at private US equity company could come in and


buy up the whole of Southern Cross 462 million and then sell it for


the three years later for a four times that, the reason they could


make a profit was because the sold off follow homes and were renting


them back. This has led to where we are now. The government has a


responsibility to legislate against that and not allow private


companies to do things like that in the future. He did not regulate


when he had the chance in government. Where we are aware that


was happening? Private companies always find ways to maximise


profits. Who would have believed that the company would sell off


their care homes and assets and rent them back? That is such a


strange model, how would you know to regulate against that? But now


we know, we can do something about it now. As Age UK said, you're not


putting enough money in the system. The budget for the NHS has been


ring-fenced and the budget for care. The care home provider said that


the money that was supposed to be handed over to help out with


elderly here, actually they could not find any trace of it. It had


not reached down to providers. money is ring-fenced from


government to local authorities and how they spend that for public or


private sector is up to them. I accept your central point that


funding will be restricted. The cut -- we are borrowing billions of


pounds every day and we have to make savings where appropriate.


care for elderly people - is that not important? We were left in this


mess by the policies of the government she supported who


bankrupted the country. We have to sort out the mess. The care of all


people is a priority and we need to find the appropriate resources but


we have to look at terms of best value and bringing in the


appropriate quality of care and the proper legislation. Shall I tell


you it that clients are not founded by councils But funded privately


are being charged more to subsidise the fact that councils are not


paying their full amount, that is not right, is it? People are means-


tested and have to contribute to their care but that is a problem in


the system. It provides incentives to people to dispose of their


assets knowing that the state will pick up the bill. This is a problem


that the last government looked at without coming up with a solution.


An independent commission needs to be set-up and will report next


month to put in a long-term framework for care which provides


for a state contribution element, the state should not be all the


bills. Hopefully, this will be done on a cross-party basis because it


is important to have a long-term framework which provides a proper


framework to go forward for the future. We jigger the that the


records of politicians is pretty awful. Labour had 13 years.


Commission reports on long-term care but nothing was done about it.


That was something which grew gradually... In 1999 Dec you


commissioned a report but did not take any action on it. We can look


back at the mistakes on the past. That is what I am saying. Or we can


look at the future. As Martin said, we need to work together. Retried


this in the last days of the last government. We looked at and


national care system. -- we tried this. There has to be a form of


contribution. Thank you both very much indeed.


Smoking in many public places - whether pubs, restaurants or


football grounds - was banned 4 years ago. This week a North East


MP proposed a Commons Bill that would go much further. Stockton's


Alex Cunningham wants parents travelling with young children to


be banned from smoking in their cars. But is such a ban enforceable


and is legislating over what people do in private really a good idea?


The suggestion has certainly triggered a lively debate. Alex


Cunningham wants to outlaw smoking in cars where children are


passengers, Sarah is on the line. Should it be out lot? I think it


should be. My sister used to smoke a lot in the car with her small


children. If children are in your car, should you be forced to stop


smoking? Would it be too difficult to enforce? The subject which has


been talked about all week. Should or should you not light up when


children are in the car? Are they going to police smokers in their


own houses? This debate is close to the heart of Louise Morris and her


daughter. I used to smoke in the car all the time. I have given up


smoking for three years so she is six now. She was a toddler when I


was smoking. Louise now thinks her daughter's health is better since


she has stopped smoking. She would have quite a few runny noses and


coughs and colds when I was smoking. When you give up, you see that they


disappear. Your child is better. Louise supports a ban on smoking in


cars with children. I think it is a good idea. It is the health of


their child that they're not thinking about as well as their own


health. Smoking rates have reduced in the North East - they dropped


from 29 % down to 22 % in 2009. This is held by the smoking ban in


pars and cafes and other public places. Here at this market in


Newcastle they are running a drop- in session to help people quit


smoking. What do shoppers make of banning smoking in cars with


children? Personally, I do not think uses smoke in front of


children any way. If you have kids and the car, it should be banned.


Just using common sense. Whether it is a good idea to make legislation


about it, I do not know. Wood stopping people smoking in cars


actually work? Some experts are convinced that making it illegal as


the best that solution. I think it is a really good idea to raise this


issue and I support Mr Cunningham for raising this in Parliament.


84,000 children in the North East are being exposed every year in


cars to second-hand smoke. We know this is a toxic cocktail of over


4,000 chemicals. The reality is about a 13,000 of those children


every year have to go and see their doctor. It might not feel that


significant with coughs and colds but second-hand smoke exposure


causes things like a middle ear infections and meningitis and


serious of all things like cot death. There is a long way to go to


persuade people to give up cigarettes and pro-smoking groups


see further restrictions as being another attack on people enjoying


what is a legal product. The Stockton North MP Alex


Cunningham, who put forward that Bill in the Commons on Wednesday,


joins me from a Teesside studio now. Most people we spoke to agree with


you that people should not smoke in the car. Is using the log the best


we to stop them? I believe it is because people in this country do


or be the log and that was true in when we had the seat belt


legislation. Up to 90 % of people now use their seatbelts. 15 % of


people who smoke do actually smoke in cars with children present which


put them into an environment of heavy smoking which is not good for


their health so the law is the right idea. They had some qualms


about this and thought persuasion might be better than an extra law.


Persuasion is one thing but we need to invest more money in education.


I know the chance of his becoming law is slim. The important thing is


people across the country is that people had been talking about this


issue, raising the issue means it is in the minds of people and


perhaps they will respond to it. You have proposed legislation so we


have to look at that. How could you enforce this? You do not expect the


police to see if people are lighting up the car when it is a


child seat in it? That will be very difficult and I acknowledge that.


When there are laws, people of a them. I would like to think if we


introduce such a log, the 50 % of people who think it is acceptable


to smoke in cars with children present will stop doing it. Would


it be a good use of the legal system to prosecute people smoking


in cars with children present? it is the ultimate situation. It is


similar to being caught speeding, it have a finer points on their


licence or the King go on education course. It would be great if we can


encourage people to go on an education course. For people who


are smokers, they feel besieged. If you dictate what people can do but


-- in their private lives, where does it end? It is the


concentration of smoke in a car which is the issue here. You may as


well invite the child to smoke it themselves in some cases. There is


a marvellous advert for the British Lung Foundation at the moment with


a child sitting in the back of the car with a cigarette in their hands


which illustrates how horrible it says. Can you ever transgress into


the private spaces of people? think the child's private space is


the important element here. The child does not have the choice.


More than 50 % of children say they do not like the fact that people


smoke in cars and they do not like shaving that smoke. They want them


to smoke. It is this private space of the child as well as the adult.


Alex Cunningham thank you. And that's about all from us.


There's much more on my blog - including the government's decision


to scrap plans for "shadow mayors" in 11 English cities including


Newcastle. Just log onto bbc.co.uk/richardmoss - and you can


also follow me on Twitter - just look for richardpolshow.


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