Insights

Mark Raeburn: 5.25 minute read

Will Boris Johnson be able to keep his social care promises?

An honest politician seems to be the hardest thing in the universe to attain. Harder than a Plumber or Builder. The reputation of politicians is at its lowest point and so we have to ask ourselves the question, will Boris Johnson keep his social care promises? It seems as though it should be the easiest question in the world to answer but experience dictates the questioning of this statement.

Politicians should be completely trustworthy and decent human beings voted into office because they represent the will of the people but more often than not, we open the headlines to see a political scandal unravelling itself on the pages below. Who was the last politician that you truly trusted?

It’s a rather shortlist, isn’t it, the Golf War cover-up or the Poll Tax scream at you as you ask the question and keep cycling back in your mind to find a name. The aforementioned, Boris Johnson, promised £350 million a week for the NHS if the UK withdrew from the EU, which has yet to be seen, so we need to ask if he can keep his new promises.

What has the Prime Minster promised?

In his first speech as Prime Minister he stood on the steps of Downing Street and pronounced that;

“And so I am announcing now – on the steps of Downing Street – that we will fix the crisis in social care once and for all, and with a clear plan we have prepared to give every older person the dignity and security they deserve.”

A bold promise and one that will resonate with voters, as most people will have come across the question of, ‘How to pay for care’? It is the scenario that brings heartbreak to a family. When our relatives reach an age in which we can no longer care for them and need to hand them off to a provider, we roll the dice and hope. Care across the sector is well-meaning but limited budgets leave many staring out the window.

Mr.Johnson has promised the world for social care. To fix the wrongs of the past and deliver the self-sustaining system we all yearn for but how practical of a promise is it? He has also promised to increase funding for schools and put an additional 20,000 officers on the streets. The desire to fix social care is one that we applaud and strive for but with a country potentially heading into the jaws of another great recession, is it one promise that will create more problems than solutions?

Can he deliver?

This is the question on everyone’s lips. Will he prove the doubters wrong and deliver lasting change for a system more broken than Manchester United’s championship streak. The aforementioned increase in police officers on the streets would cost £1bn and the increase in school funding would cost £5bn.

The next question is what is the definition of fixing the crisis? This can be very subjective too. If Mr.Johnson looks to rollback care to levels that existed a decade ago, then that would cost £8bn a year alone. Most agree that this would not be enough and access to free personal care would be the way forward. This would cost as much as £29bn a year by 2030.

These are huge figures of money for the country to find. As much as we all agree that the changes are required, they may not be practical as other services may need to take a cut in order to fund them. The question of sustainability would also then be brought into consideration, as the money could be found for a few years but if other pressures emerged, then would the government be able to continue to fund?

Is Mr.Johnson promising all of these sums of money to win votes and doing that alone or does he have a plan of action?

Thousands sign petition

We would all like to believe that Mr.Johnson is aiming to fix the current crisis that is social care as it is the right thing to do but as they say, experience is a great teacher. The earlier discussion within this article as to the fact that there is an all-time low level of trust in politicians being the most prominent amongst these.

Earlier this month a petition with more than 150,000 signatures was sent to the government. The petition called on the Prime Minister to ‘fix’ the social care system. It was made up of 150,000 signatures of concerned members of the public and 50 healthcare leaders, organised by the NHS Confederation.

The Confederation represents 85% of the NHS providers in the country and as such represents the ‘Will of the people’. The submission of the proposals will place additional pressure on Mr.Johnson and his cabinet to deliver action on the numerous promises he has made. Social care is ready to explode and the government needs to take action. They need to do so soon as there are just over two months to go until the Brexit deadline hits.

Brexit

Much like that inevitable catch-up with the in-laws, Brexit is coming and before the end of the year, will make an impact on the economy of the United Kingdom. Something that many predict will result in another recession and within this potential scenario that will result from a No-Deal situation, the inevitable question of what will happen to all the promises made emerges.

All of the promises made by Mr.Johnson will have costs ranging in the billions and with a potential loss in revenue around the corner and national debt at more than 87% of GDP, you have to ask if the extra money promised is sustainable?

Over the past ten years, the national debt has gone from 41.7% to 87.4% in 2017.

Between all of the post-selection promises, national debt repayment and Brexit, something will inevitably fall. Whether that is promises to the NHS, who has hospitals close to being condemned or social care with thousands unable to get the care they deserve, these are uncertain times. Many are questioning Mr. Johnson’s timing of these promises and seeking reassurance as to whether he can pull them off.

You need to spend in order to save

As we know in life, if you want to save money, then sometimes you need to invest and that requires spending. Mr. Johnson has outlined his plans for frontline services and they will be costly but in the long run they would arguably make a difference. More police on the streets would re-assure the public and prevent crime, more money for schools would save them from asking parents to buy resources and free personal care would help stabilise the NHS too.

Currently, the NHS in England spends nearly a billion pounds on Delayed Transfers of Care every year. This is due to delays in the discharge process from hospital to social care. It is costly for the patient and for both organisations. By investing in social care you will be able to reduce these figures as more access to care would be available.

Spending is needed and we applaud Mr. Johnson for his brave decisions in coming out before the Brexit deadline to make the promises. Will it pay off? We hope so, as everyone can agree that something drastic is required in order to sure up a system that has been living on life support for too long. 

Conclusion

Boris Johnson is a divisive figure in politics and he now has the most important job in the country. He is the Prime Minister that will lead us into a post-Brexit world. One that needs to put a plan in place to halt the cuts that have lead to frontline services clinging to life, being hauled through each day, when major overhauls are required. He needs to balance this against a national debt that would make even Bill Gates cry.

He has made the promises that we wanted to hear but will he be able to deliver? Will his promises fall as flat as those outlined during his command of the ‘Vote Leave’ campaign back in 2016. The leavers promised £350 million a week for the NHS if the UK left the EU. An astronomical sum and one that would equate to more than £18bn a year for the service. So far the money has been lost and there is a worry that Mr. Johnson’s new promises will go the same way.

We believe in the moves that he is making in terms of the frontline services but are worried if he will be able to back them up. Brexit will be a divisive moment for this country and one that needs to be carefully managed. Mr. Johnson has been chosen to be the one to lead us into this brave new era but will he fall flat like Theresa May or rise triumphant like Winston Churchill?