Behind the headlines about the election, there are numerous stories which highlight the state of various services after a decade of Tory rule.
On social care, the Express headlines ‘Annual care cost to soar £18bn in 15 years’. The coverage arises from a report from the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS). Local authorities will need billions of pounds of extra funding over the next five years to meet rising social care costs even if they put up council tax. The IFS said that the cash would be needed even if council tax were to increase at double the rate of inflation. If council tax continues to rise in line with inflation councils will need an extra £4 billion a year from the Government within five years.
This figure would rise to £18 billion a year by the mid-2030s.
Labour’s plans, announced at its annual conference in September, would introduce free personal care for all older people. It would provide help with daily tasks such as getting in and out of bed and preparing meals.
The Financial Times story about the NHS confirms Labour fears ’Perpetual winter’ puts NHS under heavy strain’. England’s NHS is mired in ‘perpetual winter’ with performance sharply deteriorating against important targets such as waiting times for emergency departments and cancer treatment, according to the paper’s research.
For the past three years, the FT has analysed the state of the NHS in February, to understand how well it has weathered seasonal pressures. This year the review has been brought forward to assess the state of the NHS as both main parties seek to claim an advantage on the issue. “Our conclusion is that the service is in the grip of strains that rarely let up, from summer heatwave to winter freeze”.
On Mental health, The Guardian reports that the ‘NHS cancels 25 per cent more child mental health sessions as demand grows’.
Growing numbers of troubled children are having appointments with NHS mental health services cancelled. Figures obtained by the mental health charity Mind reveal that CAMHS in England cancelled 175,094 appointments with vulnerable patients between August 2018 and July 2019. That was 25 per cent more than the 140,327 which were cancelled during the same period in 2017-18.
Experts think staff shortages and the growing demand from young people for help with anxiety, depression and other conditions, lie behind the trend. Mind called the upward trend deeply concerning, especially as some appointments were with young people who were self-harming or having suicidal thoughts.
On the subject of modern slavery, The Times reports that ‘Slavery offences soar as county lines are targeted’. Modern slavery offences nearly doubled last year as police increasingly accepted that county lines drug couriers were victims rather than criminals.
The Metropolitan Police recorded 1,284 crimes under the legislation, a rise of 82 per cent on 2017.
Scotland Yard said that the rise was driven by a combination of factors including a rising awareness that people previously regarded as leading ‘criminal’ lifestyles were actually victims of slavery.
The Mail turns to TV licences, blaming the BBC for cutting free licences to over 75s. Here is their headline: ‘BBC set to strip 1m vulnerable pensioners of free TV licence’. It is entirely predictable that the Mail would try to finger the BBC rather than telling its readers the truth which is that the Tories cut funding to the Corporation whilst charging it with dealing with the problem of funding all its services. The BBC has said it will only offer free TV licences to the very poorest retirees who get pension credit.
Research by Age UK shows the huge impact the change will have on some of the most in-need elderly people. It found that of the 1.6m over-75s who claim either attendance allowance or disability living allowance, around a million will no longer get a TV licence. Labour has promised to save free TV licences for all over-75s.
Scarlet Standard says that on health, policing, elderly care and even slavery, the country is retreating rapidly into a pre-modern age.
All the more reason to get out and help Labour win the election.
Press Watch is a look at the day's news by Labour MPs.