A blog by Luke Akehurst about politics, elections, and the Labour Party - With subtitles for the Hard of Left. Just for the record: all the views expressed here are entirely personal and do not necessarily represent the positions of any organisations I am a member of.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Coalition policies threaten health of Hackney residents

At the Health in Hackney Scrutiny Commission which I chair, the draft priorities for the local Health and Wellbeing Profile were presented last night.

Last year the local healthcare professionals were prioritising preparing to deal with an avian flu pandemic.

This year they list their top priority as:

"mitigating any adverse impacts arising from welfare reform on the health and wellbeing of local by supporting people to cope with changes in their circumstances and income (including the impact of work capability assessments on the large local population receiving incapacity benefit)."

So it seems that their judgement as neutral civil servants is that the Coalition's push to reduce the number of people on incapacity benefit (in Hackney this includes lots of people with mental health issues as well as physical disabilities) won't get them all into jobs, in many cases it will merely make already very poor people destitute, and then they will get even more ill.

What a great piece of joined-up government. An attempt to save DWP money looks like it will end up costing the NHS, council social services and maybe even the police (all of them absorbing massive cuts) loads of money, whilst meanwhile adding to the distress and misery in the lives of some of the most marginalised people in society.

O brave new world! That has such people in it!


Anonymous Bill Richards said...

Luke, there are many parts of the world where health is far more seriously threatened than in Hackney. When will you get the message that we can only have what we can afford to pay for.

I live on a pension and my car is falling apart faster than me. I would like a new one but cannot afford it. Tough, it is life and it is nobody's fault. The Coalition or even the last Labour government are not to blame. I simply never earned enough.

If Labour is ever to be a credible political entity and fit to govern, and that doesn't just mean winning an election, the income/expenditure equation has to be properly understood.

10:23 am, March 11, 2011

Blogger Luke Akehurst said...

Sorry Bill,

We are not in "many parts of the world" we are in one of the richest countries in western Europe, a mile from all the millionaires in the City of London.

We could afford a welfare state in the 1940s after spending our national wealth on WW2. Can we really not afford one now?

The most basic measure of a decent society is how it cares for and supports the least fortunate.

People unable to work and living on benefit are not well-off under the current arrangements - they are already desperately poor.

I've also pointed to this being a false economy. Strip benefit cash from the mentally ill and all that happens is you pay in other ways - they get sicker so the NHS has to feed them, or they nick stuff and end up with the prison service feeding them.

We need to be very careful that a legitimate policy objective - getting people off welfare into work, isn't applied so bluntly that it leaves people destitute who no employer wants.

I sympathise with your situation as my own parents don't have adequate pension provision so my dad is still working aged 71.


10:58 am, March 11, 2011

Anonymous Bill Richards said...

Perhaps you have hit where the trouble all started, Luke. We probably could not afford the welfare state so quickly after WWII and whilst other European nations were reinvesting in their infrastructure we were indulging in freebies and handouts. Had we not done so, but waited until our country was rebuilt and booming we might all be better off today.

I seek no sympathy, Luke, and I worked until I was 74. I only stopped because the the jobs dried up. In my early childhood there was no welfare state, as we know it today, and my folks struggled to make ends meet. Were we any less happy as a result. I really do not think so and when I see the problems of youngsters today I am mighty glad I was born back then and not now.

11:30 am, March 11, 2011

Blogger Neil80 said...

The Tories just never learn. Just look at housing, the savings they made by selling off social housing now mean they're subsidising absentee landlords via housing benefit. Whatsmore as a good supply of social housing could have acted to keep house prices and rents a bit more grounded to reality the effect is that it's now costing even more.

But, Tories being Tories, they're trying to blame the most vulnerable for their ideologically inspired mess.

The way I see it Labour are like the Doozers carefuly building intracate structures and the Tories are the Fraggles who just tear along and smash everything to pieces gobbling up bits of it as they reak their havoc.

12:33 pm, March 11, 2011

Blogger Alan said...

Luke - is there anyway of getting in touch with you.

I have recently (and belatedly - been here 8 months) transferred my CLP membership to Hackney and am working for a Labour MP in Westminster.

I wondered if there was anyway of getting any information on the local CLP topography from someone in from a similar wing of the party. My email is lockey.alan@gmail.com

12:46 pm, March 11, 2011

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Luke makes some very good points in his reply. However, we do spend far too much on weaponry. Even after the current cuts go ahead, Britain will still have the fourth biggest military budget in the world.

Some of the first attacks on the welfare state were actually started though under the Labour government. When, in 1951, the Conservative Party was returned to power they, quite rightly, made deep cuts in the massive arms budget planned by Labour.

11:50 am, March 12, 2011

Anonymous Observer's friend said...

"The most basic measure of a decent society is how it cares for and supports the least fortunate. People unable to work and living on benefit are not well-off under the current arrangements - they are already desperately poor."

Yes Luke, I'm so glad that you raise that point. But that's what we kept trying to drum into your thick skull when Labour was in power, that people unable to work and living on benefits are desperately poor. But somehow you didn't believe us. So why do you believe us now? And if you get back in power in the near future ... how soon will you forget us again?

3:10 am, March 13, 2011

Anonymous Rich said...

Bill, we can afford it. Don't believe the lies coming from this Tory pact. We would have had these cuts deficit or no deficit.

Healthcare is probably the most important service we pay for, it needs to be limitless with respect to budget. What this government is proposing will cost you more and the profits will line the pockets of investors rather than be recycled into the NHS.

Please also consider that this wasn't in any manifesto and the torys are a long way from owning a majority. What gives them the right to make such fundamental reforms of our heathcare system.

1:10 pm, March 14, 2011

Anonymous Bill Richards said...

People like Rich who persist in denying the deficit, despite all the evidence, make one wonder if Labour, having such supporters, can ever succeed at financial management.

If everything you don't like is dismissed as a Tory lie, how do you ever come to terms with and solve problems.

Then, even at the top, Ed M and Ed B seem to be singing from a different song sheet.

4:05 pm, March 14, 2011

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bill yes we have a deficit but by attacking the fundamentals of our health care system won't save a penny. It will cost billions to implement and make the city even more money.

The deficit was the result of poor Financial regulation not public spending. Brown was guilty but Mr cameron wanted less regulation....look at Ireland.

The economy is going backwards, unemployment is rising, wages are falling all thanks to the Tory run economy. Next will be the attacks on maternity leave, holidays, health and safety.

Labour will form the next government and we will have an election before the next term. May will show the lib dems that they can no longer prop up the Tories.

10:16 am, March 15, 2011

Anonymous Bill Richards said...

10:16 Whilst I am sure you are right that the 5th May will be a bad day for the Lib/Dems and will see many councils passing to Labour control, do not read too much into local elections results.

Had one converted the last local election results into a forecast for the general election, the Tories should have had a comfortable majority. They didn't resulting in this nothing sort of government we now have.

Sorry to see you blaming our financial position all on regulation. Yes, regulatory failings played a part, but so did poor budgetting. Unless we accept that we can never sort it out.

One good thing to come out of the coalition though, is the exposure of AV or PR for that matter. Could you imagine permanent coalitions with the likes of the Lib/Dems, Greens or UKIP as kingmakers?

2:03 pm, March 16, 2011

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bill, the lib dems want to rig the voting system in favour of their party. I'm not sure people want a different voting system anymore.

What they want is for politicians to keep their promises and this applies to all parties labour included.

5:21 pm, March 17, 2011


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