25 years ago, when my dear Mum was dying of lung cancer, there was a brief period of remission. Understandably, she was desperate to “Go home” for the last few months of her life – though both she, and I, knew that she didn’t have the strength to keep house for herself and do her own shopping, cooking and cleaning.
My mother was not a wealthy woman, but was proud that in her latter years, she had saved from her pension and her part-time job, about £20,000 which she always told me was her “nest egg”, which she wanted to come to me. At the time I didn’t have two buttons to rub together, and that inheritance would have made a huge difference to my life too.
To enable Mum’s wish to go home we needed to arrange some basic home care for her; someone to cook and clean and do her shopping, and as her health deteriorated, to provide her with personal care too. Money for this came from what my Mum had saved. She would never have dreamed of expecting tax-payers to pay, nor for one single moment did I begrudge Mum spending this money on herself and her care. By the time Mum was readmitted to hospital for the final weeks of her life, all but £5,000 was spent.
Quite frankly I find the vested interest and selfish behaviour of those who expect tax-payers, many of whom are struggling to make ends meet, to pay for their own parents’ social care so that they can inherit a fortune, to be simply vulgar. I acknowledge the arguments about those who have frittered their money on booze, fags and bingo – but ultimately we have a responsibility for ourselves and our families. It is wrong to rely others to pay our bills.
If Theresa May had not introduced this bold policy into the manifesto, and had tried to ignore the huge fiscal time bomb that social care carries with it, she would not only have been falling short of the office of Prime Minister, but would have been accused of ducking difficult issues. The reality is, the money has to be found. The truth is that we are responsible for our own lives.
The State is there as a safety net; not an alternative for self-reliance.