Between a rock and a hard place: KCC's care homes plan

by Paul on Politics, by political editor Paul Francis Thursday, January 13 2011

KCC would have known many months ago that its proposals for a shake-up of its remaining care homes would touch a raw nerve, which is one of the reasons it embarked on such a lengthy consultation and took pains to hold countless public meetings.

Care homes inevitably have an emotional resonance for families and the upheaval involved in closing homes can trigger great anxiety. No-one could accuse social services chiefs of being either insensitive or unaware of these feelings but at the end of the day, it has opted to make no changes at all to the original proposals, which will unfortunately and probably unfairly make it look rather cavalier.

Where the authority has perhaps been a little disingenuous is in its argument that this is not about money.

It is, for the very simple reason that the costs of providing in-house care far outstrip the costs of buying care in the independent sector. This was reinforced at a cabinet meeting this week, when in a presentation about the proposals, an officer made the point that KCC's costs were double what it would need to pay in the private sector.

Furthermore, KCC has always made it plain that it doesn't have the cash to do up the homes it runs to the standards it wants - again, a money related motivation.

And in a press statement about the decision issued today, the council makes much of the fact that its decision for Bowles Lodge at Hawkhurst, Cornfields at Dover and Manorbrooke at Dartford will see a £70m investment by using the sites for extra care housing schemes, built in partnership with district councils.

That's £70m that with the best will in the world, even the most prudent county council would never be able to lay its hands on.


I was among the hundreds of people who suffered the consequences of the latest fiasco on Southeastern rail services yesterday as I struggled to get to London.

So, too was Private Eye editor Ian Hislop who joined the train at Staplehurst at the very moment that an announcement was made that it was stuck in a growing queue behind a broken down freight train and was not going anywhere at any time soon. Even though the breakdown happened at 7.30am no-one had the foresight to alert Ashford station.

There was much derision from angry passengers when a guard appeared and said the train was to have been diverted via the Maidstone line but the driver "did not have a licence" for that particular line - a very novel excuse.

The surreal nature of events took another twist when we all trooped over to the other side of the line to return to Ashford to get a fast train to London. Having been told that the London-bound train was not going anywhere, guess what it did a few minutes later? Yes, move off in the direction of London...

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Categories: Conservatives | Politics | Protests | Southeastern

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