IT IS often said that a society is judged by how it treats its elderly and its youth. Young people, as we know, are targeted by the Tory government, exploited as cheap labour, driven onto zero-hours contracts, or if they try and further their education, drowned in tens of thousands of pounds worth of debt.
The Tory government have simultaneously turned their fire on the elderly, reviving the ‘dementia tax’, where their home is seized to pay for their care. Tory care minister Jackie Doyle-Price was recorded telling a Tory conference fringe event that it is ‘unfair’ for younger taxpayers to ‘prop up people to keep their property’ when it could be sold to help pay for the cost of care.
This plan is even more extreme than the ‘dementia tax’ that was included in the Tory manifesto during the snap election, which a panicked Theresa May was forced to drop in the middle of the campaign – although the U-turn came too late to prevent her collapse into minority government.
In fact, the Tory war on the elderly is well under way. Elderly people are being evicted from their homes in record numbers. Yesterday, figures were released which show that the number of homeless elderly people has surged by 100 per cent in seven years.
People over 60 are more than twice as likely to be homeless now than they were in 2009. The Tory government’s own data show that the number of homeless people who have registered with local councils as homeless has risen from 1,210 in 2009 to 2,420 last year.
This, of course, only shows those who have registered as homeless. Hundreds more elderly people sleeping rough on the streets are not registered. The Local Government Association (LGA), which represents more than 370 councils in England and Wales, warned that, based on existing trends, the scale of elderly homelessness is set to double by 2025.
Campaigners said the rise in homelessness among the elderly presents a ‘ticking time bomb’ for local authorities, placing a strain not only on housing but also on already stretched health and social care services. Polly Neate, chief executive of Shelter, said: ‘These shocking statistics will shame us as a nation. It’s not only our young paying the price of a broken housing system, but now the elderly, too.
‘For this nightmare to end, the government should use the upcoming Autumn Budget to end the freeze on housing benefit so that elderly people can afford to pay their rent and retain their homes. In the longer term, the government must commit to building many more genuinely affordable homes.’
Meanwhile, council-run care homes have become a thing of the past and privately run care homes charge extortionate fees, give very poor care, pay their workers an absolute pittance and make big profits. Agency care workers are sent from home to home, often not being paid for their travel time, seeing as many as twelve elderly and disabled people in a single day, having to spend less than 15 minutes a visit.
This means they have to choose between preparing their clients a meal, giving them a shower, taking them to the toilet or helping them clean up their flat, because doing all four in 15 minutes is impossible. Now cash-strapped councils want to replace face-to-face visits with video chats on Skype via computer!
Trialled in Essex, up to 40 pensioners will be given 4G Samsung Galaxy tablets to communicate with carers who will talk to them over Skype rather than visiting their homes. Private company Essex Cares Limited believes the system will make the ‘care system more efficient’. Chief Executive of Essex Cares, Keir Lynch, said: ‘We are delighted to be pioneering a new method of providing care and well-being across the county.’
Once you have retired and capitalism can extract no more profit out of your body, as far as the system is concerned, you are only as valuable as the assets you have accumulated during your life, your pension, your home and the money the council is obliged to spend on your care.
Elderly, disabled and chronically unwell people are being treated like commodities for private companies to ‘efficiently’ exploit for profit. This is the brutality of a capitalist system, whose rulers could not give a damn about the elderly. It is a barbaric system that deserves to perish.
Its gravedigger is the working class, whose socialist revolution will bring in a society dominated by the satisfaction of human need, not making super-profits out of