Editorial Thursday 15 December 2016: The three deals to be done
Connoisseurs of U-turns are going to have some fun with Prime Minister Theresa May’s administration. The Teflon determination on absolute control that served Mrs May well at the chaotic Home Office is a poor approach to running the whole of government.
Today's U-turn isn't surprising. Following the Autumn Statement, I wrote on Twitter ”there will be quite a few Conservative MPs who are surprised and uncomfortable that nothing new was done for social care today”.
So it rapidly proved. Just call me Nostradamus.
Following the refusal to address social care funding in the autumn statement, it is now the country’s worst-kept political secret that communities and local government secretary Sajid Javid will later today announce increases in the council tax precept for social care – thought to be 3% in each of the next two years.
This is the wrong way to raise money. Council tax is limitedly progressive, inequitable (it consumes a high proportion of the poorest people’s disposable income) and worst of all, raises less in poorer areas, which have the biggest funding burden.
It seems from Mrs May’s remarks at PMQs that that we may even be heading towards a Mersey Care have done.
The second is a deal on capital. This isn't impossible, though there will be ownership complexities around the blend with public dividend capital accounting. But without capital, STPs are guaranteed to move too slowly and slightly.
The third deal is the real deal: a deal with the voting, taxpaying public.
This deal says 'look, you know that you don't want worse health and care services. You know the smart way to fund them is communal risk-pooling across the whole population. And you know income tax is the best way.
'We're been pulling your leg that you can always have better services on lower funding, as social care is definitively demonstrating right now. This is going to cost you a bit more money. But it's worth it.'