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It’s okay, they can’t remember the good old days…

So this post is about the proposed ‘Dementia Tax’, flouted, then retracted, by the Tories last May. And why I fully support it.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a Tory. I dislike the majority of their beliefs and priorities, however, I am willing to look at each policy independently and make my own mind up, regardless of party allegiance. And one thing I do know a fair bit about is Adult Social Care (ASC) and the crippling costs of it.

So, in a nutshell, the current ASC funding system works in two ways – If you live in the community (your own house, rented accommodation, supported living, etc.) the amount you pay towards your care is calculated based on your income and savings only, not the value of the house you own and live in. If you have over £23,250 in savings you pay full cost. If you have less than this, you pay a contribution. If you live in a residential care home, the amount you pay towards your care is also calculated based on your income and savings. However, if you own a property they add the value of this to your savings, therefore, chances are you have over the £23,350 threshold and pay full cost.  To show an example of this lets imagine Mr X.

Mr X lives at home and gets carers 5 times a day. He owns his own home, mortgage free (valued at £250,000) and has £5,000 in a bank account. The actual cost of his care is £420 per week however he only pays £95 per week towards it. The local authority picks up rest of the bill at a cost of almost £17,000 per year.  Mr X then moves in to residential home. He still has £5,000 in his bank and his care now costs £700 per week. Because he owns a property, however, the value of this is taken in to account and he is deemed to have £255,000 in savings now. Therefore he pays the full cost, £700 per week, until he dies or his savings drop to below £23,250. The local authority pays nothing towards his care however may contribute whilst the house is for sale – research Deferred Payments for more information on how this works. There are many nuances that affect charging, however, to make my point the case above is pretty standard.

What Theresa May proposed was to change the scenario so that whilst Mr X lived at home and received carers 5 times a day, instead of deeming his savings to be £5,000, they would also include his house value now. Therefore in this scenario, Mr X would be deemed full cost and have to pay the full £420 per week, saving the local authority £17,000 a year. Now, obviously, if Mr X is living in his home he can’t sell it to pay these bills – not even the Tories would make someone homeless just to pay for care. This means in real terms, the local authority would still continue to contribute towards his care however Mr X will run up a debt to be paid if he sells his house or dies. The caveat of this proposal being the threshold to stop paying full cost increased to £100,000, so in some cases Mr X may die better off under the new scheme still.

The reason this was deemed a Dementia Tax focussed on the fact people living with dementia represented the largest benefactors of care in their own home, therefore, they would be the biggest losers in this scheme. What this actually is, however, is an inheritance tax. And whilst I would usually be dead against such a thing, I am actually for this for two mains reasons.

Firstly, local council’s cannot afford to pay for care. Simple as that. Their budgets are getting reduced whilst more people are living longer and needing support. Other government changes are affecting this also – the introduction of Universal Credit for instance. This new benefit removed certain disability premiums. Whilst this looks like a cut, in real terms for people living with care, this will have no actual effect. For example, someone living in supported living may have a care package worth £1,000 per week. Whilst on an old legacy benefit like ESA they might pay £145 per week towards this. If they moved to Universal Credit, their income may drop by £100 per week, however, all that would happen is their care contribution would drop by a similar amount. So now they would only pay £45 per week towards their £1,000 care package. The government can announce that this has saved millions in benefit payments, however, it has only increased the burden on local authorities to cover the shortfall in care costs. This will have a massive effect on the cost of ASC in the future and has not been highlighted enough. Local authorities cannot afford to continue to pay for care at the levels that will be expected in the future. We need to raise more funds from somewhere and I have no issues with this being through charging people who need the care via taking in to consideration the value off their properties.

The second reason is even more important. This country is at a crucial point where the have and have nots are getting dragged further and further apart. And the main reason for this is home ownership. We all know it is increasingly harder for millennials to get on the property ladder, relying on the bank of mum and dad and inheritance. What this is creating is a new class division akin to the middle ages where the amount of land you own determined your social status. We face the very real prospect, in a couple of generation’s time, of having a very visible divide between the rich and the poor based purely on home ownership. Those who own homes will prosper more and more whilst those who do not, did not marry in to home ownership nor bequeath it, will suffer.

We are not building enough affordable homes, it is extremely difficult to save for a deposit whilst renting, and house prices are too high. The ‘Dementia Tax’ would start to alleviate these issues by ensuring a vast amount of houses are sold as apposed to passed down to family, thus breaking the chain of home-ownership. This would happen by either through the force sale after death due to care debt, or an individual’s foresight to sell up and have some fun before the council take it all anyways. I for one intend to sell my house when I retire and spend frivolously in to my old age until I’m left with nothing. My spending will boost the economy, and my house sale (assuming other follow suit) will drive house prices down due to saturating the market, allowing my grandchildren to get on the property ladder much easier. Oh, and I’ll also enjoy my life while I can.

I would love to see everyone’s care funded indefinitely, however, this is not a realistic prospect. We have to look after our vulnerable, we have to provide essential care for the most needy, and to afford to do this we have to insist that those who have assets to cover the cost pay their share. Taking your house value into consideration is a fair way of doing this and I do not feel it is discriminatory to people living with dementia.

My biggest annoyance with this entire debacle is the fact Theresa May, nor anyone else who had input in to this proposal, had the guts to stand up to criticism and defend it. Instead of trusting the general public to understand that ASC funding is at critical levels and explaining why they felt this was a sensible idea, they backed down under pressure and did a complete U-Turn. This response is endemic in politics and is shameful – too concerned with self-preservation to risk upsetting one cohort or another. Their policies judged by the editors of media outlets and adjusted according to who shouts the loudest.  Whilst many may not agree with my stance, at least I’d be willing to evidence why I feel the way I do and have faith that people have the intelligence to take it on board.

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More offensive than Galway Girl

Okay, so it’s been a while since I wrote anything but I feel I should briefly revisit the theme of the last two posts following the rape trial acquittal of the Ulster Rugby players. Once again, deplorable human beings have been found not guilty of a crime, however in no way does this mean they are innocent.

In this particular case it is hard to understand how the jury and Irish legal system failed to accept the burden of proof and find the defendants innocent, but they did. Somehow, a girl who has medical evidence consistent of non-consensual sex, who immediately informed a friend that she had been raped, and plucked up the courage to make a formal complaint despite knowing the media interest and possibility of her being dragged through the mud, has been told her story is now officially not true and the men she accuses are innocent.

So we have to accept, that this, is now a fact. These men are not guilty of rape. They are not rapists. And we do have to accept it, we really do. The only way a judicial system works is if we trust the process and it’s eventual outcomes. I’m not saying we should accept the decision and not challenge it through the appropriate channels, but for now we have to accept that these men are indeed, not rapists.

But not guilty does not mean innocent. These men, a term used incredibly loosely here, have proved themselves to be privileged, disrespectful chauvinistic, little boys. They have escaped criminal punishment on legal definitions, character defamation, and manipulation of legal presidents. But they should not escape punishment from the public in the form of contempt and opinion. I could not muster the breathe to cheer a player who I knew had such a low morale fibre, I could not associate with someone who had the arrogance to think acting and talking in a way proved during this trial is acceptable. These men should have a mirror held up them and be held in contempt until they can prove they have respect for women. How that’s proven and how long it take is an individual process, some may never look them in the eye again and they have no right to complain or wallow in self-pity. Every dirty look, shake of the head, and missed opportunity they suffer due to the evidence portrayed in this trial is self inflicted and deserved.

It is not a crime to disagree with a ruling and state so. It is not a crime to say the words ‘I believe her.’ Standing up and supporting someone who has suffered should only be encouraged and applauded.

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Not Guilty does not mean Innocent

Ched Evans this week had his conviction for rape over turned, proving at last he is an innocent man, wrongly accused, wrongly convicted, and wrongly imprisoned. Wrong.

What definitely did happen is Ched Evans, instead of going home to his girlfriend, got a text from his buddy, and went to a hotel room to have sex with a drunk girl he had never even spoken to before. Whilst the adulterous aspect isn’t relevant to the criminal outcome, it does give an indication to the calibre of this talented young man. Did Ched ponder over his decision to go meet his friend? No. Did they engage in a foreplay, for want of a better word, about the moralistic dilemma it would put them both in? No. He got a four-word text then jumped in a taxi with a semi-on. To me, this suggests that this is not the first time this has happened and again, whilst not relevant to the criminal outcome to the case, does once more, give a clear indication as to the moral fibre of this talented, young, wealthy, individual.

From what I’ve read, the girl involved doesn’t sound the classiest of women, in fact evidence that helped ‘free’ Ched Evans involves statements from two men who slept with her on consecutive evenings. These witnesses for the defence concurred that on both occasions the girl demanded them to bend her over and “fuck her harder” – a phrase Ched remembers well from that evening. This was used as evidence to suggest the girl had in fact consented. What’s missing from this sentence however is the name “Ched”. “Fuck me harder Ched”… she didn’t say that did she? Was she even aware who was behind her? Then did she deserve to be treated like a piece of meat then smeared on the internet by Ched’s fiancé’s family?

The fear is this will start a lot of victim-bashing about girls who cry rape and ruin lives. What should be made abundantly clear is this girl never once said she was raped by Ched Evans. Her story throughout this entire debacle is she woke up naked in a hotel room and has no recollection of the evening. Having investigated CCTV, the police and CPS decided that there was adequate evidence to suggest a rape had occurred and proceeded accordingly.

If Ched’s defence is 100% accurate and he came in the room, asked if he could join in, she said yes, he ‘fucked her harder’ then skulked out leaving her to literally pass out naked in and wake up in a strange hotel room, does this make him any less innocent? Not in my books.

I can accept the reasons why Ched’s conviction was overturned but being found not guilty does not mean he is innocent.

 

Note: check out The Secret Barrister for a good overview of the facts regarding his overturned conviction

 

 

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Knox Knox… Part Two

Okay, so I said previously that I had seen a BBC documentary on Amanda Knox and thought she was totally guilty… well I’ve now watched the Netflix programme too. And my opinion hasn’t changed.

Whilst I can appreciate the reasons why her guilty verdict was overturned (the possible contamination of DNA evidence, the lack of organisation and professionalism of the Perugia investigation, the pressurised statements, the media witch hunt), I can’t help but still feel like this is murder equivalent of getting away with a speeding fine because the camera that caught you hadn’t been re-calibrated in a timely fashion – Knox’s solicitor is basically Mr Loophole.

I think she and Sollecito tried to get Kercher to have kinky sex and when she said no she encouraged Sollecito to kill her. Rudy Guede was having a massive shit during this and legged it when he came out and saw the scene. I don’t think he saw who did it but made up seeing Knox when it was clear she was involved.

Whilst I have never been pressurised by Italian police, I find it hard to believe that this would lead me to change my story when I know it to be the truth. Knox said she saw Lumumba when she probably saw Guede briefly after they had killed Kercher so thought she was setting him up perfectly. When she got this wrong she had to back track her story and say she wasn’t really there after all – despite Sollecito now saying Knox hadn’t stayed the night after all.

But the biggest thing that makes me doubt her innocence is the fact she claims she came home, saw her door wide open, possible break in, and instead of ringing the police, she jumped in the shower – ignoring the blood in the sink, the blood on the bath mat, and the massive dump in the toilet.

Will she kill again? No. Is she a threat to society? No, I don’t think so. Will her next boyfriend be found in a cupboard asphyxiwanking? Quite likely. The point I want to make, and one that I wish to evidence in my next post also, is not guilty does not mean innocent.

Amanda Knox is, once and for all, not guilty and I accept this. There were errors in her case, evidence against her is inadmissible, and there isn’t enough to prosecute her. However, this does not mean she is innocent. This will never be proven.

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Just say No

So Jeremy Corbyn has been re-elected as leader of the Labour Party, a man who is arguably Britain’s best hope induce a modicum of respect into a political system currently viewed with such disdain by the majority of the population.

A year or so ago this man caused an outcry of opposition for daring to suggest that if he were Prime Minister he would never fire a nuclear weapon.

Let’s just think about that for a minute. People were genuinely upset with him for not wanting to fire a nuclear weapon. NOT wanting to fire a nuclear weapon. A Nuclear Weapon. Nuclear.

On the other side of the world we see Kim Jong-Un grinning like the a Cheshire Cat as he manically presses his Fisher Price ‘My First Nuclear Launch Button’. Clapping like a fat kid seeing a birthday cake at the sight of vast wasteland being reduced to…erm… glowing vast wasteland by the resultant explosion. Is this what we’d prefer? If Jeremy came out and said he couldn’t want to get his sweaty palms on that big launch button and start wiping out the planet?!

I for one, do not feel comfortable living in a world where willingness to launch a missile that can kill a million people and ruin land for generations is a trait that we want in our leader. If all world leaders stated they would never fire one then we’d all live in a much safer place.

And I don’t accept the argument that we need a nuclear arsenal for defence either. If Putin were to launch a nuclear attack on London tomorrow I still disagree that a proportional response is to send a nuke of our own to destroy millions of their innocent civilians. That would almost certainly trigger the end of days.

We live on an island, we should have a huge navy and the most sophisticated air defence system money can buy. We should not have nuclear weapons sat in submarines in Scotland.

 

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Do Not Open The Box…

The Earth is melting and the end is nigh. CJ De Mooi from Eggheads is on the run for murder and a cryogenically reanimated cyborg* Noel Edmonds is telephoning your pet cat to talk through it’s depression. The year is 2052 and….

No wait, that’s happening right now. (*unconfirmed at time of publish). Noel Edmonds is actually calling animals to tell them everything is going to be alright, he’s even setting up his own radio station solely for pets to listen to. But it’s not all good news for Barkie the ironic kitten, as Noel warns, if they kill a bird or mouse in this life they will be dealt with in the next. So mind your haunches. But also relax, as everything is going to be juuuuuust fine. Because Noel Loves You.

He’s gone mad. Actually mad.

This comes only 3 months after claiming a box of wires and LEDs from Maplins cured his cancer. And if you poo-poo his claims then you’re going to get cancer too for being a negative-nelly. If this was my Nan we’d be wheeling her down to local nut-house, pumping her full of pills, and inducing her in to a harmless catatonic state. But it’s Noel Edmonds, so we write about it in the press and invite him on to prime time TV or radio to hear him out. If ever there was a poster boy for more funding in the mental health system it’s him.

I genuinely fear we are 6 months away from Noel, in a crudely homemade Mr Blobby suit, marauding down Wood Lane towards BBC Television Centre, taking out waving children with a burning crossbow. Don’t say the warning signs weren’t there.

His only saving grace will be the fact he didn’t get caught up in the 80’s Children’s TV star quagmire that was Operation Yewtree. Although on this evidence, would touching some kids really have been any worse?**

 

 

 

 

**Yes. Yes it would. Much worse. Don’t touch kids.