Where’s the real debate?

    Social policy is generating a louder debate between the main
    parties than most subjects as general election campaigning gets
    under way. Yet it is also the area of policy where there is least
    difference between the parties. This is not a paradox because much
    of the social policy debate is no more than a race to deliver the
    same populist messages with most vehemence, beating the other side
    in airtime and column inches.

    Social care professionals will be dreading the inevitable crescendo
    as the general election draws nearer, wearily resigned to the
    inevitability of their experience being ignored once again by both
    politicians and media.

    The prospect of a noisy “get tough” contest with the media braying
    from the corners is not merely distasteful. As our survey of youth
    justice workers published today shows, it affects the lives of
    young people and their families, and makes it harder to work
    constructively with individuals for real change. It may also
    exacerbate the disillusionment of voters who believe politicians
    are more concerned with scoring points than dealing with the real
    causes behind the problems they experience.

    Community Care’s campaign Election 2005: Putting Social Care in the
    Picture, launched this week, aims to ensure that politicians and
    journalists can’t ignore the real issues – the daily experience of
    social care professionals behind the headlines and

    The campaign will focus on four themes over the next four weeks:
    youth crime, care for older people, inclusive education, and the
    public sector workforce. They have one thing in common: an
    overblown populist debate which ignores the ways in which real
    change could be achieved. For each theme we have commissioned an
    original, expert report and will be holding a parliamentary
    briefing at Westminster. We have surveyed both social care
    professionals and the general public to identify their key concerns
    on each theme.

    You can support the campaign by ensuring that social care
    experience and values are part of the debate in your local media.
    It’s not as hard as it sounds – visit
    www.communitycare.co.uk/election and download our free local
    lobbying guide. It’s time to put social care in the picture.

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