Let me tell you about a good friend of mine. For the sake of his feelings, we'll call him "Turbo". He's 79 years old and suffering from dementia. He has lived in Barnet for 37 years and has paid his taxes and run a construction business employing dozens of people. In the last few months, he has started to display the signs of dementia. He lives on his own, but of late he has stopped eating and upped his daily drink quota to ten or eleven pints of strong lager. He has managed to upset and fall out with most of his friends and family, who are not aware of his situation. He has been making all manner of strange comments, a typical one being to a customer, who he was supposed to be tarmacing a car park for, that he'd been "discussing the project with the Archbishop of Canterbury and they had figured out a solution".
It is clear to all and sundry that he needs help. If he was your father, brother, uncle, best friend and you were worried about him, what level of care would you think was appropriate?
Or what about another friend who has a daughter with extreme disabilities, who can no longer cope and has asked social services to help? What sort of care should her daughter receive?
Or what about a relative of mine who is in her 50's, has Downs Syndrome and is cared for by Barnet. If she was your cousin, would you want her to have a fulfulling and safe life in a happy environment?
When Politicians talk about cuts to social care budgets, they mean one thing and one thing only - reducing the level of care to all of the people I mentioned. What will happen to them? I shudder to think. None of the people I've mentioned above are having an easy time. None of them elected to be in the situation they are in. All of them are at the sharp end of the cuts, through no fault of their own. A small percentage of UK citiziens are in their situation. A much smaller percentage than those paying the top tax band.
If you are a top rate tax payer, maybe you resent the fact that your taxes "subsidise" these people (to paraphrase a local Tory politician). Maybe you think that it is not the job of the state to ensure that people who can't look after themselves have as happy safe and fullfilling life as possible. If you do feel like that, then that is the end of the conversation.
If however, you (like most decent, caring people) believe that we should look after our fellow citizens who are unable to look after themselves, then there is no reasonable discussion to be had about cutting such social care budgets. You either fund them properly or you don't. When you start replacing skilled, trained staff with less capable people care suffers. When you contract our services, you replace carers who have a relationship and understanding of the client needs with transient agency staff, there is no way that you will have the same level of service. People with special needs need continuity. I pay top rate tax and I personally see it as my duty to society to ensure that such people have a decent lifestyle. There are plenty of extravagances I'd cut in councils and I certainly think executive pay is far too high.
So do you think that cutting social carer budgets is ethical, humane or moral? I don't. I am not ashamed to say that I believe a society is judged on how it treats its weakest and most vulnerable people, not it's richest, wealthiest and strongest. That is why I believe that the current cuts are not only divisive, they are immoral and wrong. I don't think that saying this gives me a label of anything other than a member of the family of the human race.