Bexhill MP Huw Merriman has called for reform to enable local elderly and vulnerable residents to be given better care.
Speaking in a debate in the House of Commons on Social Care, the MP pointed out that: “East Sussex has the second-highest proportion of over 85 year olds in the country, and that number is expected to grow by 14 per cent by 2021.”
Highlighting that 30 out of 85 care homes in the constituency have failed their inspections, the MP went on to say: “Not only does East Sussex have a large population of people who need to be looked after, but the system is clearly not working as it should.”
Mr Merriman welcomed the additional £2 billion of Government spending in the last budget and the decision to allow the county council to introduce a social care council tax levy of three per cent.
However, the MP called for the funding of care to be centralised similar to NHS funding, pointing out that, in his constituency of Bexhill and Battle, “33 per cent of the working-age population are on the living wage, so to continue to expect council tax payers to fund the social care model will not help them get on in life and will not help inter-generational fairness.”
The MP reserved praise for the local county council, NHS trust and GP commissioning teams for their Better Together programme which aims to merge budgets and services together. Explaining how he was working with all three institutions, he said: “Our Accident and Emergency team is the most improved in England over the last six months because the Better Together partnership is now working. People are getting out of hospital earlier.”
In calling for all political parties to work together to help improve care for the elderly and vulnerable, the MP concluded: “In reality, [the Government] will have no majority for these five years, and social care will be reformed only if we work together. Please, can we do so?”
Speaking after the debate, Mr Merriman said: “For the future, we could do well to look at the German model, where all citizens contribute towards a social care insurance fund. This could operate alongside national insurance.
“For the present, I remain of the view that a system which requires people to sell their home to pay for residential care needs rebalancing. With so many of our local care homes failing, we need action.
“Taking the party politics out of this issue could unlock the door to reform.”