Talking politics: Coun Colin Raistrick (Independent, Hipperholme and Lightcliffe)
This week, Coun Colin Raistrick discusses why there should be a referendum on adult health and social care spending, and why he thinks it won't happen.
It’s budget time at Calderdale Council.
This is traditionally a flashpoint for inter-party bickering; how to divide up an ever smaller cake into acceptable slices?
Let’s consider adult health and social care. The government allows councils to add three per cent to council tax bills, solely to fund adult care.
If councils want to add more than this they have to hold a local referendum.
A few councils are doing this, but in Calderdale it’s never been mentioned.
Do we acknowledge that we have a crisis in this area? I think we can all think of examples.
My Auntie Joyce, who lives in Morley, after two hospital stays, is now confined to one room with carers visiting four times a day.
Eight minute visits - what can you do in eight minutes?
Now, of course, simply throwing money at something is not always, or ever really, the answer.
The big picture is that we are all (hopefully) living longer, we are improving treatments to keep us alive and we are going to have a lot more older people.
So, even if we only spend the same per person as we do now we are going to need more money because we’ll have more older people. Seems obvious doesn’t it?
What can be done? We should hold a referendum on an increase above three per cent.
It won’t happen though because the council is so finely balanced politically that no party wants to do anything that could cost them votes and therefore the power they covet above all else.
But would a referendum be so unpopular? I don’t see why.
The current political view is that Calderdale people wouldn’t vote for an increase.
I don’t think anyone knows that.
If the last 12 months have taught us anything, it’s that nobody can guess the outcomes of votes.
Why can’t all the political leaders of Calderdale act like leaders for once, put aside their party political differences, say clearly what the extra money is for and ask the question?
It’s time for real leadership.
I’d vote for it.
As the aforementioned Auntie Joyce would say, ”if you don’t ask, you don’t get”.