The Simon Heng Column





With the publishing of the green paper on long-term care for
adults, the national service framework (NSF) for people with
long-term – mainly neurological – conditions, and the proposed
roll-out of the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 to include
public bodies, the government seems to be moving further forward in
its consideration of disabled people.

Just as laudable, to my mind, is the way that this has been
done. Not only have the major independent bodies been consulted,
but also individuals have been invited to contribute to the
process. My only objection is that the period for consultation has
been so short that many of the people who will be affected
didn’t get to know about the process until it was too late.
Nevertheless, it’s refreshing to find that both civil
servants and politicians can acknowledge that they don’t
always know best.

The raft of recent policy proposals, and the proposed
establishment of an Office for Disability to co-ordinate activities
across state departments, was leading me to think all there was
left was to dot the i’s and cross the t’s. I could go
and do something different for a while – perhaps even get a
“proper” job. That was until Stephen Ladyman declared the
forthcoming crisis in care provision.

Ladyman suggests that care for disabled adults and older people
is going to cost the state too much, and that much more of the care
needs to be done by informal carers, drawn from the local

Coincidentally, it has also been suggested that opportunities
for younger people to volunteer remain unexplored.

Although I believe volunteering has many potential benefits, I
think a care system based on voluntary community support is risky
indeed. To work at all, it would involve a massive change in
societies’ attitudes and values, towards an idea of community
that in many parts of the country simply doesn’t exist.

And I suddenly remembered that, for all the talk of ending
social exclusion, the one topic that has been delicately ignored is
the greatest form of exclusion – poverty.

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