The Scottish Budget was passed by the Scottish Parliament yesterday evening. So that’s it over for another year. The chance of smaller political parties to get their pound of flesh from a minority administration has passed over the yard arm.
And what’s it done for social care in Scotland? Well pathetically little.
Admittedly we got our £66million, which is amongst other things supposed to cover the increase in the Scottish Living Wage, the effect of changes on sleepovers, Free Personal Care increases and the start of the Carers Act. Mind you last year we had £100 million allocated for the Scottish Living Wage which had then just gone up by 20p- but it’s amazing what £66million is going to stretch to given it’s a 30p increase this year! That’ll be one to watch!
But I don’t want to just dwell on the Budget because no doubt I’ll be back talking about the back of a fag packet economics of it all at a date in the not too distant future. What I want to talk about is that I’m scunnered and getting really quite angry at the whole charade.
I’m scunnered at what feels like standing in the middle of the public square with a begging bowl each year calling for extra funding for some of our most vulnerable watching out for a passing MSP who might hear the need for serious investment in care.
I’m scunnered at saying we need a dramatic serious investment – I called for a third of a billion in December and we got £66million and at the time I was made to feel as if I was dreaming of Utopia rather than the socially just and human-rights based country that I thought I was a citizen of.
I’m scunnered that there seems to be no real debate despite political rhetoric that admits that the sums are simply just not adding up – and that’s a lesson in the arithmetic of austerity that people who are today grabbing 15 mins of rushed care rather than being treated with respect and dignity have learnt only too well.
But I’m also angry…
I’m angry at the wasted opportunity of having a grown up non-partisan political debate about what is the real and not the affordable cost of rights-based dignified social care and not the system we have at the moment where eligibility makes social care the preserve of the few and not the requirement of those who need it.
I’m angry that a week after the Kings Fund published a major report offering a range of proposals for the funding of public social care in England, no political party north of the Wall seems prepared to look beyond the next ballot box to think seriously about how we are going to pay for care into the future, what system will fit us and how we are to create equity rather than accidental access.
I’m angry that we seem to spend so much of our time hiding behind data to show that what we are doing is making an apparent difference to the health and care experience of our fellow Scots, and that we engage in a self-congratulatory back-slapping of what’s going well. Let us hear the good news stories but let’s not pretend everything in the garden is blooming!
And I’m angry that despite the rhetoric of prevention and self-management we are still dominated by the sacred cow of the NHS against whom no critique should be offered and are thus failing to address the fact that we need to transfer resources from the privileged few in that system to the majority in communities who experience inadequate social care provision.
So yes, the Budget may be over for another year but for goodness sake let’s not be here next year arguing over scraps for a crumbling social care system where the word ‘crisis’ is already beginning to sound empty and hollow. Let’s start to work together to transform the woefully inadequate funding and priority given to social care. And that means we all of us have to take charge and control and start talking up the critical importance of social care.
Social care should not just be for an election debate or a budget negotiation – it should be the central characteristic of the society we wish Scotland to be.
Dr Donald Macaskill