Well, so far we are one month into our Government’s new term and the very first inklings of what’s to come are beginning to dribble into our consciousness. Despite beaming pronouncements of our forward-thinking new government promising largesse particularly directed at hard-working-families, we are now, it seems, having our expectations lowered on a seismic scale as county council and Government announcements reveal the savagery of the financial cuts being proposed to get our economy out of the mire they created.
Unfortunately, what wasn’t announced in the run-up to the election was what would befall those who weren’t quite so ‘hard working’ . . . the frail, long-term sick, those needing the NHS or possibly individuals struggling on low wages. These people are to carry the can to the tune of a further £1.1 billion in cuts to social care. And this is in the wake of last year’s cuts that nationally saw 16,000 fewer homes receiving nursing or residential care despite increasing demand from an ageing population. Age UK’s director, Caroline Abrams, described the thought of a further massive cut in an already patchy service as “chilling”.
The upshot of this catastrophic decrease in funding will have one result, an unprecedented increase in pressure on the NHS as demand rises for beds from those unable to survive at home. Unfortunately our NHS is equally under fire from all quarters as the unbelievable cost of executive pay structures and exorbitant fees demanded by agency nurses is being blamed as a reason why health authorities’ dwindling budgets aren’t able to cope with the financial burdens placed upon them. Only last week three ‘health regions’ Essex, Cumbria and Devon revealed that they have all failed to cope without dramatic interventions by national regulators and the fear is that more will reach breaking point soon.
Closer to home, county councillors have blithely declared that West Norfolk will be expected to plan for a 25% cut in budgets over the next three years and their teams are to begin reviewing costs and opportunities to curtail or even cease services currently on offer to residents. I’m wondering where these hapless individuals imagine they’re going to find the savings their masters demand? Walking around my village I see weeds, potholes, cracked pavements, knackered street lamps, sporadic bus services and a generally dowdy and unkempt look to everything. How much more can they cut out before our already struggling region begins to take on a very ‘third world’ air?
But it’s not all doom and gloom. The NCC Leader George Nobbs almost proudly declares his intention to be ‘open and honest’ about the proposed damage they are preparing to inflict on us like it’s some sort of novel idea and goes on to express his satisfaction at presiding over a billion pound organisation!
There you have it, your future laid out before you . . . and if you’re still struggling with the difference between George’s millions and billions, think of this: a million seconds is 12 days…a billion seconds is 32 years…hope that helps!