Social Care in “Calamitous Decline”: There is no solution under capitalism

The post war boom is now a thing of folk memory. We have had forty years of declining wages and living conditions. The harsh reality is that capitalism has no future to offer beyond escalating attacks on those who by accident of birth are not fortunate enough to belong to the privileged minority. Their wealth has increased by leaps and bounds as the austerity agenda for the rest of us bites ever more viciously.

The illusions that capitalism had transformed itself from a filthy generator of slums and class division into the basis for a decent society are rapidly falling apart as society is polarising between have-nots and have-yachts. The reality of declining profit rates has pushed capital onto the offensive against which the working class has been slow to defend itself. These attacks have taken place on many fronts and the entire edifice of the post war welfare state is plunging headlong into the abyss.

One such aspect, an important one in UK society where the number of retirees has increased by 16% in the last five years, is social provision for the elderly. The figures are truly shocking and should sound the alarm bells for the majority of us whose future prospects under crisis racked capitalism are anything but rosy.

An alarming report from Age UK speaks of calamitous decline. They give us the following figures. Money spent on social care for the elderly has fallen by £1.1 billion in the past five years. Only 9% of those over 65 receive any help as they age. 900 000 people between 65 and 85 have unmet needs for social care and 1/3 of those requiring assistance to carry out essential daily activities get none. Older people in receipt of home care fell by very nearly a third between 2010/11 and 2013/14 and at the same time day care places plummeted a staggering 67%; spending on day care dropping 30% from £379 million to £264 million. Numbers of those receiving meals on wheels declined by over two thirds. Spending on home care declined 19% - £2.25 billion to £1.8 billion and the number of elderly getting vital equipment and adaptations to help with safety at home dropped a huge 42%. More than half of those who struggle to wash receive no help, as are one third who struggle to use the toilet and over two fifths who find it hard to dress themselves.

All of this has a further effect on the NHS where hospitals are struggling to discharge older people. The numbers of so-called “bed-blockers” has risen by 24% because social care to enable independent living is declining. There is simply nowhere safe and more appropriate for them to go.

Janet Morrison, Chief Executive of the charity Independent Age stated ‘’These figures reinforce concern that cuts to social care have a shocking impact on the most vulnerable in our society and put even more pressure on the NHS, as the crisis in A&E demonstrates.”

The free newspaper “Mature Times” echoes these concerns; “The stark reality is that every day hundreds of thousands of older people in the UK are left to battle on alone without the care and support they desperately need.”

As communists our task is to explain how the shocking disregard for the elderly and the various social issues, ranging from the housing crisis to poverty, low pay to environmental catastrophe, debt to war, are symptomatic of the wider capitalist crisis. It is a crisis which essentially means that the working class majority is facing escalating levels of hardship for the impossible goal of reactivating economies which are moribund. As the reality of capitalism’s dead end manifests itself ever more blatantly, we have to combat the illusion that there can be any resolution to the declining condition of the working class majority under capitalism. The struggles that arise will initially be ones of defence to combat the symptoms of decline. They face either defeat at the hands of a capitalism incompatible with social provision or they become struggles to get to the root of the problem, the suppression of the capitalist system and the construction of socialism. Capitalism’s incapacity to maintain society will provoke and is provoking spontaneous class reactions to the encroachments on living standards. But these will be local and isolated unless we consciously organise to link them and ensure that they remain independent of all capitalist rackets. In the course of this there is an urgent need to propagate a wider perspective amongst those who are compelled to resist capitalism’s ‘solutions’.

The Communist Worker’s Organisation rejects all illusions about reforming capitalism, makes no demands on the capitalists, realises the futility of a class struggle solely restricted to single issues, single sectors and defence of past gains. No doubt the working class has fought, does and will fight on such terrain, but our message is clear; socialism or barbarism, revolution or social collapse, there is no other possibility. Join the fight for a society where all social needs are met without the need for money and where everyone can contribute to a meaningful and caring life for all.

Ant 24 February 2015

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Aurora (en)

Aurora is the broadsheet of the ICT for the interventions amongst the working class. It is published and distributed in several countries and languages. So far it has been distributed in UK, France, Italy, Canada, USA, Colombia.