The economic climate may well be making a lot of people suffer but its effect may be far-reaching in terms of how care is structured and administered over the next few years.
Would anyone involved in social care – service user or practitioner – trust the Conservatives? David Cameron was getting all sentimental last week in using a very non-Tory approach to issues like poverty and education. Ahead in the polls, Cameron was making sure wavering voters would not get the wrong idea about the Tories; that they really will make sure those who need help will get it. The speech even had the Guardian stating that traditional left-leaning voters may have been nodding in agreement in parts.
For me, the issue is not a philosophical one; after all, who would ever have believed that a Labour government could allow the gap between rich and poor to be so marked? Or that witless bankers (no, that’s not a spoonerism) would be ‘excused’ for their ineptitude?
And herein lies the problem; it’s not about a difference in philosophy between Labour and the Tories, rather a difference in ability to effectively manage complex government. And here both the main parties are not exactly blessed with talent in the crucial area of social care. Both parties know they cannot alienate voters in key marginals and have to make the right noises about care. And in the current economic climate that means more effective management within tighter budgets.
So for starters, might it not be an idea for local authorities to be looking at whether they are really getting value for money in the following areas before the new administration (of whatever colour) does it for them:
Out-of-borough adult residential placements
Block contracts with Community Care suppliers
Advertising and marketing of services and jobs.
If I was a betting man, I think we could find considerable savings in these areas alone.