There is another even stronger reason not to look to council tax to pay for social care (Councils spend less than ‘floor price’ on social care for elderly, 13 December). Poor people would have to meet the cost. This is due to abolition by the coalition government of their previous entitlement to council tax benefit – and successive governments’ failure to get the better-off to pay their fair share by revaluing properties to reflect current values and introducing new higher tax bands.
The government’s transitional grant for the discretionary relief scheme which replaced council tax benefit was soon withdrawn at the same time as government grant to local authorities was being cut – and is soon to disappear altogether with termination of the revenue support grant which used to be the main source of government funding.
Few councils are now able to support poor council tax payers to the level of the old benefit entitlement. In most parts of the country almost everyone has to pay council tax, including people on jobseeker’s allowance, employment and support allowance, income support and pension credit. Poor people cannot afford to pay what is already demanded of them, let alone more. Council tax is now so regressive as to mirror the poll tax. No wonder so many authorities are reluctant to raise the full social care precept and increase further the already steep growth in proceedings for arrears of council tax, with its attendant misery.
The government must face up to the crisis and increase its funding to local authorities through progressive taxation. The most vulnerable members of our society are suffering untold misery without relief in sight. Are we a civilised society or not? This is the major test of us as good neighbours in deed as well as word.
• To provide desperately needed funding for social care, the government plans to allow councils to increase council tax. We must care for those who are disabled, ill and infirm, but the problem is that council tax is regressive – falling hardest on poorer people, because it takes up a much greater share of their income. We must not increase the load on those who are already struggling to stay afloat.
Tax is the price we pay for a civilised society. In a civilised society, we look after those who need care. In a civilised society, we also give more if we can afford more. In the context of cuts to taxes on corporations, avoidance of tax by the wealthy and a £370m refurbishment of Buckingham Palace, the government must find a way to share this necessary burden more fairly, so that those who are struggling are not made more desperate.
Kingston upon Thames
• Odd, isn’t it, that a country pleading poverty, a country refusing to afford proper care for its people, readily affords boundless care for places? Though only special places, of course. Those like Jersey, the Caymans, the British Virgin Islands, Bermuda, the City, the Isle of Man and on and on.
When will Mrs May acknowledge that tax-dodging, money-laundering and routine corruption cost this country far, far more than caring for people ever will? And when will she do something about it beyond reinventing the poll tax?
• How to meet the spiralling costs of adult social care? To put it on the council tax will not even scratch the surface of the problem in Lincolnshire, where we have the highest proportion of senior citizens in the east Midlands and one of the lowest council tax bases. To suggest this is a cop-out. We need to take the politics out of this and stop just passing the buck.
The only way to finance a problem that will not go away is for us all to make a greater contribution, through national insurance contributions and/or by biting the bullet and paying higher income tax. It may now be time to combine spending on health and social care as well.
North Hykeham, Lincolnshire
• The growing crisis in social care is generally described in terms of the impact on the wider healthcare system, with some commentators also acknowledging the anxiety caused among the huge number of frail and vulnerable residents of care homes and their families who could find themselves being victims of a market failure. But there is another equally large group of people who will be badly affected if the system does collapse under the weight of governmental lack of interest and blame-shifting – the many thousands of people, predominantly in low-paid work, who stand to lose their jobs. When it looked like Nissan was considering whether to continue manufacturing in the north-east, ministers pulled out the stops, and deals were done to calm corporate nerves. If things are as bad as they seem to be in the care sector then far more jobs are now at stake – the difference being that they are not all in one town, and the workforce is overwhelmingly female. The time for ministerial intervention has come.
• If it wasn’t already obvious, the Conservative government have all but admitted that they don’t know how to fix the problems with social care provision. So why don’t they ask Ed Miliband what he was planning to do before the 2015 general election, when he was the one talking about addressing the upstream problems with social care funding that were in turn putting additional burdens on the NHS (as opposed to just promising to throw money at the NHS as the Conservatives and Lib Dems said they’d do)? They’ve pinched most of his other manifesto policies already, so what difference will pinching another make?
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