MP Laura Moffatt: Complete overhaul of care system is now essential

LAST week the Government published its social care Green Paper, Shaping the Future of Care Together in which it sets out plans to ensure that everyone in England will have access to a National Care Service that is fair, simple and affordable.

The success of our NHS since its inception in 1948, under a Labour Government, has meant that average life expectancy has risen from 66 to 78 and for the first time ever there are more people over the age of 65 than under the age of 18.

Clearly we can and do all celebrate living longer. However, this has an enormous impact on the number of people who need help and support in their later years; that figure has risen year on year so that the ratio of people working (and paying tax) to people retired has fallen significantly.

People are living longer in retirement; in 1950, of those men that made it to retirement, the average age for stopping work was 67, and they then had an average of 10 years in retirement.

Today not only do the vast majority of men survive to retirement, the average age they retire is actually 64, and at that point they can expect to spend another 21 years in retirement.

Over time therefore the strains on our care system have become severe and frankly unsustainable.

There are clear inequities in the system whether from so called post code lotteries or because some may have to sell their homes to pay for essential care while others are lucky enough never to have significant care needs at all.

That is why a complete overhaul has become essential.

Last year in the run up to this Green Paper the Department of Health conducted a wide ranging consultation process, listening to the thoughts, concerns and suggestions of those working in the care sector, many from the voluntary sector, carers and carers groups, people who receive care and members of the general public.

There was little disagreement on the need for reform. A range of suggestions and ideas evolved in terms of how to provide a better, fairer service and how to pay for that service so that it can remain sustainable in the long term.

The ideas set out in this Green Paper are important to us all whether we use the system ourselves, a family member or friend needs support, we are looking to our own futures or we simply pay tax.

That is why I am encouraging everyone to have their say. You can find the consultation on the Department of Health website at; or by writing to the Care and Support Team, Room 149, Richmond House, 79 Whitehall, London, SW1A 2NS to ask for a copy of the document or to set out your views.

Here in Crawley I am hosting a consultation meeting in September. I have invited the Minister responsible for Social Care, Phil Hope. I want to make sure that people in Crawley both those involved in social care provision and those with a more personal interest have their chance to put suggestions directly by the Minister.

If anyone reading this would like to attend I do have just a few places left and they should call my Crawley office to see if any places are available.