Election 2015: Isolation and Loneliness

Posted on 29th April 2015 by

With the election only 7 days away, Peter Kyle, Labour candidate for Hove & Portslade attended our Befriending Coalition meeting this morning to hear from befriending organisations in the City on issues that affect our service users. This is a summary of questions and issues that we raised with him:

B&H Impetus asked: Brighton & Hove City Council has had to make £24m cuts this year, with the same planned for the next three years. These are predominantly coming out of Adult Social Care as other areas are protected. We are experiencing a double impact of reduction in funding but increase in demand because of cuts to public services – how will Labour stop damaging cuts that impact unfairly and disproportionately on the most vulnerable people?

Peter: A Labour government will repay the debt but take longer to do so, and it will not be at the expense of vulnerable people. The local Labour party has pledged to protect budgets to the voluntary sector. This means grants, but they will prioritise saving budgets and contracts to the voluntary sector.

Trust for Developing Communities asked: Digital exclusion marginalises older people, how can we enable younger people to support older people to get online and use technology to combat exclusion?

Peter: Agree that cross-generation work is a good way of doing this. He gave the example of a project in Kensington where young people spent time with older people to write their memoirs.

L’Chayyim said: There is disagreement with the rhetoric about debt and deficit, with the way that some politicians talk about the state of the economy and claims about cutting public services being the way to tackle deficit.

Peter: Labour’s response is that living within our means as a country is important but that to cut the deficit we need to grow the economy.

Impact Initiatives raised concerns about the emphasis on acute health care over social care, and worries about cuts to home care and the quality of home care. We need to value these roles and the people that provide care for our vulnerable and older population.

Peter: Agree that there is a big problem here.  His experience is that cuts in care impact on A&E, and that there is a discharge crisis where patients are delayed in hospital when they could be at home, because there is a lack of domiciliary care. It is clear that cuts in one area can have a dramatic impact on others. The voluntary sector is at the heart of the prevention agenda and have an important role in helping people to be well within their communities, and stay at home for as long as possible.

Time to Talk asked: All of the issues highlighted are likely to get worse in an ageing society – how can we be ready for this?

Peter: The Labour manifesto protects freedoms and choices that older people have, commits to keeping the Triple Lock on pensions (where pensioner incomes increase by inflation, earnings or 2.5 per cent, whichever is highest). Health & social care will be merged under Labour and it’s really important to get those systems working better together and looking at the person holistically.

Macmillan Brighton Buddies said: Investment in health is a concern generally, but want to highlight an issue about patient transport. There are examples of cancer patients not taking up treatment because they cannot get to appointments, have no-one to accompany them or no-one to be with them at home after treatments.

Peter: Agree that this is a really difficult issue and shocked that people are not able to take up treatment because of access. This links back to issues with social care more generally.

Neighbourhood Care Scheme reflected that resources can often be better used collectively than individually – for example, community facilities can build community connections and cohesion.

It was great to have the opportunity to talk directly with Peter about the issues our service users experience. These are summary notes, and the conversation certainly flowed rather more than this short blog suggests! I hope this offers a sense of the conversation and that I’ve presented Peter’s comments accurately.

Want to respond to any of these points? You can comment here, on Twitter (@BHImpetus) or on Facebook.

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