News & features

Working age social care

Time and laterally the crushing impact of Coronavirus have destroyed any illusion that resolution of the social care crisis in England can be delayed. Proposed solutions must meet ethical tests around the essential value of all people – and also be just for adults of working age who need adult social care.

People of working age who need social care are faced with a system that financial pressure has optimised to barely meet the statutory obligations that Local Authority have to older people. For the working age community the combination of the crippling means test, and the inability of care providers to reliably meet incredibly basic needs; makes much Local Authority social care a disabling, trauma producing system.

Implementation of an effective social care reform requires primary attention to the solution must reflect the changing demography of England. The needs of older people must dominate the settlement. It would though, be remiss and inequitable to leave working age recipients of social care with a system that fails them as badly as the present one does.

Just social care for working age adults means ensuring that any solutions are able to meet basic life needs of people bringing up families, contributing to society or working. For example, at present it might be difficult to get regular care at a suitable time to allow someone to commute to work, to study, or to take their child to school. That isn’t ethical, or humane. It shouldn’t happen now, and it mustn’t in the future.

There has been tentative proposals that revisions to the social care system be funded by state managed group insurance paid for by a premium: bluntly a tax, paid by all over the age of 40. However it is drawn such a scheme must cover younger adults who need care – perhaps from the day of their birth, or who acquire disability early in life. Such a scheme must be mindful that there are injuries which occur for which no personal injury claim could ever be possibly effective.

Especially in working age adults good integration between health and social care is essential. Integration doesn’t mean one side owning the other though. In fact the NHS taking over social care in another ‘visible from space’ reform that medicalises models of care and strips expertise from Local Authorities is a potential tragedy. Social care has specific connections into the community which aren’t the competence of health care. Broadly Local Authorities are generally incredibly efficient in their delivery of social care through their own staff and contractors. They have to be. The long coming crisis in social care, has forced every efficiency possible to be made. It would be foolishness to hand the complexity of social care – so very different from health delivery to the NHS.

News & features

Hiroshima 75

Down the rabbit hole into a crazy word:

75 years ago, nuclear weapons were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. This first sight of the weapons of light which bring only darkness was sufficient for the Word Council of Churches to declare war with atomic arms: “sin against God and a degradation of man,” For the life of the world which is from everlasting, the time for every nation: superpowers included prohibit nuclear arms, is now

A strategist: Bernard Brodie coined two axioms about nuclear ams in 1946 which remain true until today: First that they exist, and second that their destructive power is fantastically great. Those wizards of armageddon: closeted intellectuals charged with grappling military utility from this destructive power failed. The only end of attempts to create logical schemes for the employment of nuclear weapons is a rabbit hole winding to death, destruction and certain catastrophe. There is only one way to safely address the pair of axioms. Tackle the first, not the second: disarm, disarm entirely, and disarm now.

For most of the Cold War the military plans for the employment of Nuclear Weapons could be simply characterised: Massive Attack. There was it seemed no likelihood that either side could enter a limited nuclear war without spillover, in part because with weapons each 10 – 100 times larger than that dropped at Hiroshima no sane definition of a limited attack stood scrutiny. Unaware of, or unwilling to model the ionising radiation, fire-aggregation and other effects of nuclear weapons, US planners calculated using blast effects alone. They and presumably their USSR counterparts created a level of overkill which would have devastated the world and left the ruins bouncing.

The Coronavirus pandemic has shaken the globalised world. Every excess death is a tragedy. However a virus that kills around 1:1000 is in historical terms a moderate epidemic. The Black Death at its worst killed between one third and two thirds of Europe. Dreadful though that plague was, it did not poison the earth. Nuclear arms, threaten not only megadeath, but the killing of the wind and water, the earth and sky. A major nuclear exchange ends this civilisation.

In both Russian and US circles there is renewed interest and commissioning of smaller ‘tactical’ nuclear weapons. We are told the Russians consider that it might be necessary ‘to escalate in order to deescalate’ That is, the use of overwhelming force – with ‘small’ nuclear arms might stop conflict in its tracks. In the US the claim is that certain targets are now so hard to destroy with conventional weapons, that it would be proportional to use a small nuclear weapon. As mischief is worked, arms control treaties unravel, weapons proliferate to new countries, strategists are again looking for problems to which the answer are atomic arms.

The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW), which was adopted by the United Nations in 2017 has now been ratified by 40 states, albeit not by any state with or in the process of obtaining nuclear weapons. It enters into force, binding the signatories when 50 states have ratified the treaty. Will this uprising by non-nuclear states to declare the obscenity of these weapons illegal have effect in time? Nothing is certain save that, for the life of the world this is time to put our heart and soul into the effort – wherever we live.

Before I was injured I briefly served in the Royal Navy as a very junior officer. The Navy is responsible for the UK’s nuclear deterrent. At the time the idea that the knowledge that vengeance waited in the deep for any who struck the first blow seemed an uncomfortable, but just deterrent to secure peace. I no longer think that it is a peaceable way to make peace, and no longer a thing which I as a follower of the carpenter from Nazareth: Jesus can support.

Reading list

The Wizards of Armageddon (Stanford Nuclear Age Series) Fred Kaplan

The Bomb: Presidents, Generals, and the Secret History of Nuclear War. Fred Kaplan

The Doomsday Machine: Confessions of a Nuclear War Planner. Daniel Ellsberg, Bloomsbury