The ‘how to guide’ to Coalition Government

So we now have it, the long form guide to coalition government published this week by Nick Clegg and David Cameron with its three distinct themes of freedom, fairness and responsibility.

It’s quite a read and it you’re geekie enough, like me, you can find a number of web sites that compare it against the two parties manifesto’s and who’s got what in, the shortest version of this I have found being the excellent BBC one.

Looking at its various sections, obviously the bit of most interest to me is on Social Care and Local government arrangements.

On Social Care the document states:

The Government believes that people needing care deserve to be treated with dignity and respect. We understand the urgency of reforming the system of social care to provide much more control to individuals and their Carers, and to ease the cost burden that they and their families face.

  • We will establish a commission on long term care, to report within a year. The commission will consider a range of ideas, including both a voluntary insurance scheme to protect the assets of those who go into residential care and a partnership scheme as proposed by Derek Wanless.
  • We will break down barriers between health and social care funding to incentivise preventative action.
  • We will extend the greater roll-out of personal budgets to give people and their Carers more control and purchasing power.
  • We will use direct payments to Carers and better community based provision to improve access to respite care.
  • We will reform Access to Work, so disabled people can apply for jobs with funding already secured for any adaptations and equipment they will need.

Well there is nothing there that you can take offence at, all good stuff and generally I agree with all. Albeit that I am not sure that personalized budgets are right for everyone and they are certainly not the silver bullet that some seem to think they are. Safeguarding arrangements are vital, yes people should have choice but the plain fact of the matter is that a lot of those we are going to give choice them to, will still need our help as we make sure they are not taken advantage of.

If you, or a member of your family, are facing the need for care and support are for the first time then it’s the opening bullet point that will be of most interest.

The key thing for me is that as the Commission is deliberating about how to deliver a care system it must not make the same mistakes as Labour did with its ill thought-out Care green paper and its eventual farcical white paper with Brown’s ‘it seemed a good idea when we were writing the speech’ free personal care at home bit tacked on; throughout that debacle, all we and by we I mean Councillors, Directors of Social Services, Carers Organisations and the Society of County Council Finance Directors, kept asking and were constantly promised were coming was the costings; Surprise, surprise they never appeared, obviously they had done them but could not be published as they simply did not add up; what we will need are the options, and a clear understanding of the cost of those options.

However it’s the second bullet point that I know the professionals, both in health and social services, will be most interested in, as it is here that a golden opportunity to deliver a truly better set of services for less than is spent now is the Holy Grail.

And it is here that as a nation we need to be radical, bold and innovative, the silos need to be collapsed and savings realized to provide what people actually think exists! – An integrated person centric service, now there’s a dream.

The other comments that will really help the older residents in our communities are about pensions and the “Triple guarantee” that basic state pension to rise by whichever higher of average earnings increase, price inflation or 2.5%, from next year; along side confirmation of the protection of winter fuel allowance, free TV licenses, free bus travel, free eye tests and free prescriptions for elderly. Things Labour so shamelessly said the Conservatives would drop in an attempted to frighten people into voting for them as they desperately tried to hang on to power.

On Local Government, a subject dear to my heart, there is lots of things we have pushed for over the past few years for the party to adopt when in power, pushed for over the past few years; and I for one, really look forward to being implemented, not least amongst these are the promise to freeze Council tax for at least a year, and seek to freeze it for a further year.

There is also a promise to abolish the Government Office for London and consider the case for abolishing the remaining government offices, yes please! – what exactly does ‘Go East’ do apart from employing cleaners to keep its lovely offices looking so nice.

I also totally agree with Councils in England and Wales publishing all items of spending above £500, under new plans, albeit that one of those items will be the cost of publishing all spending above £500, as that won’t be a cheap exercise.

On a slightly more serious note, one of the things you quickly learn when you become a Councillor is just how much control is exercised over local government by central government, both statutorily and in the inspection and rating regimes. Naively you think I was elected by the people for the people, thus we must shape the council to what the good people of Suffolk want; what you actually find is that is the aim but officers are straight-jacketed but regulators reports and rules from Whitehall.

I am so glad to see the a ‘’general power of competence’ is to be introduced which whilst it sounds a bit vague, what it will mean is that councils such as ours in Suffolk will be able to cut free much more and act in the interests of our communities, rather than having to constantly seek Whitehall’s permission, and we will be able to get the Councils to focus on you its residents rather than the dictates of Whitehall.

As for inspection, I simple cannot say how much I am pleased to see that the absolutely stupid Comprehensive Area Assessment is to be dropped, good riddance!

But for me the very best news and direction to come out over the past few days is best summed up by Chairman Pickles, sorry, Eric Pickles MP, Minister for Communities and Local Government, when Matthew Hudson of Anglia TV News interviewed him on College Green opposite the Houses of Parliament and asked ‘What now for local government reorganisation in Norfolk and Suffolk?” and Mr. Pickles said “It’s off!”

Matthew Hudson asked him to elaborate and Mr. Pickles, in his own inimitable style said “It’s definitely off!”

Well you can’t say fairer than that and what a wonderful death nail for such a complete and utter waste of time, effort and our money.

About askcolinnoble
I'm a Conservative politician-lite, I dabble a bit in Party Politics with my main focus of working hard and being a strong voice for my community making sure local government delivers quality services and fellow residents get value for money for their hard earned money they pay in Council tax | Where this Gravatar appears and I am expressing my views or liking something I do so in a personal capacity and does not necessarily reflect the views or policies of Suffolk County Council, Forest Heath District Council, the Conservative Party or come to think of it anyone else | But having said the above at an election time and to stay legal anything I write is promoted by Kerry Buist on behalf of Colin Noble, both at West Suffolk Conservative Association, Unit 8, Swan Lane Business Park, Exning, Newmarket, Suffolk CB8 7FN

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