A public letter to David Cameron – where is the ‘Big Society’ going?

James Oxfordshire16 October 2013

The Rt. Hon. David Cameron
10, Downing Street
London SW1A 2AA

Dear Mr. Cameron

I am writing to you concerning a possible constituent of yours – he lives in Oxfordshire – who has Downs Syndrome. His sister has started a petition on his behalf because of problems that beset him regarding his care and how this will affect his semi-independent living.

His name is James and he has been helped throughout his life, to the point where he lives reasonably independently with another person who suffers from learning difficulties. Their domestic situation is both sustainable and affords a reasonable measure of dignity, though clearly it depends on a care plan which Oxfordshire County Council funds. He has now been informed by his Local Authority that it can no longer afford to pay for his care and thus he will be evicted and relocated to a care home at the beginning of December: all this simply to save money.

I would ask you to cast your mind back to the Andrew Marr show of the 2nd May 2010. I am sure that you remember the interview and the discourse, which included your statement:

“The test of a good society is you look after the elderly, the frail, the vulnerable, the poorest in our society. And that test is even more important in difficult times, when difficult decisions have to be taken, than it is in better times.”

Fine words before an election, but what happens when you are in office is the real measure of that test and it appears to fail someone who, given his life’s difficulty, it seems to be true could not be much more vulnerable. When Andrew Marr moved on to international development you said:

“We’ve said what we said about international development because of the sort of country I want this to be – tolerant, compassionate, generous to people who live in deep, deep poverty.”

I am not quoting this to try to parallel it in any way with those in strife or the straving of this world but simply to pick up on what you say are your aspirations for our society, namely “tolerant, compassionate, generous to people” but again the case of James seems to fail this test too.

As I write, James’s sister’s petition on change.org has passed 94,000 and will doubtless be over 100,000 by the time this day is out: The tolerance, compassion and generosity of the people in this country is welling up behind James and his soon-to-be disastrously modified life.

Mr. Cameron, we, the almost 100,000 expect you to pick up the phone and put a stop to this blatantly unfair penny-pinching exercise where the poorest and most vulnerable actually end up, in practice, with the biggest burden of the austerity measures.

Reading the papers the other day, I saw an article wherein a spokesperson from the Embassy Club in London was quoted as saying “A regular spend for bankers here would be around £5 -7,000 a night. Sometimes we’ll get £10-15,000.” While I celebrate the success of any individual, perhaps you could tell me why your government is nurturing such a grossly inequitable society that sees one man going out to spend ten thousand pounds or so on champers while another man, with severe learning difficulties and in need of care to sustain his semi-independent living finds himself facing eviction because his local authority cannot pay his care bill?

Your respectfully,

Henry Page


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