Article - The Budget and West Dorset

There can have been few periods in our modern political history which have witnessed so concentrated a collection of significant moments for our country as we have seen during the last couple of weeks. It is difficult to believe that, in this short stretch of time, we have had the passing of the European Union Withdrawal Bill, following the retreat of the House of Lords, the battle between the Scottish Government and the U.K. Government over the timing of any further referendum on Scotland leaving the U.K., and, of course, the introduction of a Budget followed by the reversal of one of its central measures - namely, the increase in National Insurance contributions for higher-earning self-employed people.

In the midst of all of these dramatic events, and with much other more ephemeral news swirling around them, anyone could have been forgiven for failing to notice what would probably be the point of most immediate importance to a large number of people living in West Dorset.

The fact is, as everyone knows, that West Dorset includes within it a far higher proportion of inhabitants who are frail and elderly than the national average. And very many of these frail and elderly people depend heavily upon the help they receive each day from those involved in providing domicillary social care funded partly or wholly by the taxpayer.

Increasingly, over the last twenty years, this system of domicillary social care for those who are frail and elderly has come under pressure due to the remorseless increase in the number of people reaching great ages and the equally remorseless increase in the cost associated with providing care for them.

For a while, the pressure was contained through reallocating resources from other types of County Council spending (including, in Dorset's case, through welcome reductions in administrative overhead costs). But it simply hasn't been possible to find enough money from these other sources - even when efficiency savings and reallocations have been accompanied by a rise in local council taxes devoted exclusively to paying for care for the elderly.

That is why the measure in the Budget which will most effect people in West Dorset is the large additional injection of funds from general, national taxation into the social care system here and elsewhere in the country.

This is very definitely a step in the right direction.