Thursday, 27 January 2011

Care and the Tesco Tax

In the past few weeks I've had quite a bit to do with care homes or, to be more precise, one such establishment.  Not so long ago it would have been called a Nursing Home - a haven for those who required professional nursing care - but now all such places are called care homes.  Not so long ago we also had Homes for the Elderly and we knew they provided for those older people who could no longer fend for themselves.  Now they too are called care homes.

We were all aware Homes for the Elderly weren't Nursing Homes but nowadays, with all homes classed as care homes, it's up to the service user (must stick to the jargon) to telephone or visit each home to enquire about services.  Not an easy task for someone in immediate need of care for a relative.

Dame Jo Williams, the chairwoman of the Care Quality Commission (in England), has warned that conditions in Nursing Homes across England could deteriorate as owners 'cut corners' to save money.  Nothing new there because care homes are now private businesses and profits have to be made. Initially I thought Dame Jo Williams' comment was concern for the service users within nursing homes, but with further reading the article is more about the reduction in the CQC's budget rather than an interest in those her organisation was set up to protect.

My expectation was that the newly appointed Dame would have some positive ideas about how we (and I mean the UK) are going to cope with the increase in the number of older people who, because we are living longer, may require care home accommodation.  The question does need addressed but, as there are no clear answers which don't involve extra finance, politicians and the English CQC see no urgency.  That doesn't bode well for my generation in England.

In Scotland we have a slightly different problem because our government policy is to provide free nursing care for people of any age and free personal and nursing care for anyone over 65 who has been assessed by the local authority as needing it.  The care can be in a care home or the service user's own home.  It's a very worthy policy and highly regarded by older generations because it gives us the security of knowing that we will be cared for come what may and it works reasonably effectively given the amount of people - and thus bureaucracy - involved.

However, such policies are expensive, very expensive, because caring and nursing involves many professionals who have to be paid.  Even those of younger generations are beginning to see the benefits of our Free Care for the Elderly because many have now experienced the help it gives to an elderly relative.

Yesterday the Scottish Parliament's Local Government and Communities Committee voted down the SNP's proposal to increase rates for big stores (nicknamed the Tesco Tax). John Swinney's assessment was the tax would raise £30 million, but the committee's move means it is now likely to be defeated when the proposal comes before the full parliament next week.

The supermarkets are cock-a-hoop at this decision of course.  It had been estimated that Tesco would pay an extra £9m a year, Asda £8.8m, Morrisons £4.4m, Sainsbury's £3.5m and B & Q an extra £2m.  M & S would pay £1.3m more while the tax would also apply to big names such as Ikea, John Lewis, Primark and Debenhams.

John Swinney told the committee that the retail tax would affect about 0.1% of businesses and was needed to relieve pressure on family and household budgets during tough economic times.

The committee split down party lines as seems to be the norm these days in Parliament. Not one of the political opposers suggested where the now lost £30m could be found to permit us to fund our priorities such as Care for the Elderly.  I have to agree with John Swinney when he said:

"It's an appropriate financial measure to take, which gives the government the opportunity to raise a modest amount of revenue from a highly profitable sector that is contributing to the public purse of Scotland and enables us, then, to afford some of our other priorities." source

The Scottish Parliament's committee system used to be respected for its non-partisan approach.  Recently this appears to have been lost and the system will struggle to regain any credibility unless MSPs put aside their electioneering tactics and view the bigger picture.

You may be wondering what yesterday's Tesco Tax decision has to do with Scotland policy of caring for the elderly.  It may well have none but, then again, the short-sightedness of unionist politicians not to support this minimal tax rise with big business may well affect it.  Someone has to be the loser don't they?


Joe Public said...

" Not one of the political opposers suggested where the now lost £30m could be found........."

If you've never had it Rosie, how can it be lost?

Shall I report to my local police station that I've lost £millions because I didn't win the EuroMillions?

Businesses are taxed to the hilt; their profits are taxed; their employees are taxed. If care for the elderly is a pressing need (which it is), fine. Find economies elsewhere to pay for it. All politicians just want to increase taxation from some they perceive 'can afford it'.

Tesco / Sainsurys / Morrisons et al will simply pass the costs on. They're just being treated as glorified tax collectors.

Crinkly & Ragged Arsed Philosophers said...

JP -how do you do that when you can't raise tax and your allownace is being cut?

Joe Public said...


I'm talking about politicians ajusting the way they spend 'our' taxes to match the income they receive.

"John Swinney told the committee that the retail tax would affect about 0.1% of businesses and was needed to relieve pressure on family and household budgets during tough economic times."

I suppose Mr Swinney 'forgot' to tell the committee the retail tax (100% passed on by the retailers) would affect about 99% of taxpayers in Scotland when there was simultaneous pressure on family and household budgets during tough economic times

Anon said...

The Tesco tax is a brilliant idea.

- Aangirfan

Hamish said...

Weak argument, Joe Public, that the big retailers will just pass it on.
You could use that against most forms of corporate taxation.
It might just help some of the small retailers to compete.

Edward Spalton said...

CARE FOR THE ELDERLY varies quite a lot in England from one local authority to another. As councils come under financial pressure, they will be trimming services.

A few years ago we were keeping an eye on my mother (who lived next door). In Derbyshire the policy was to offer free home care visits to keep people living independently. The care was generally pretty good. There were rules, of course. If we had been living in the same house with my mother, we would not have been eligible. Towards the end she was getting several visits a day and one of us would go and sleep there but we were told that the authorities must not hear of this or mother would not be entitled to the visits.

To access the financial help available it was really necessary to know a social worker who would help you through the maze of form filling.

Woodsy42 said...

It sounds a clever idea - whooopee a new tax to get extra money! But think deeper and it's not extra money.
I have no interest in Tesco but this is just another tax, to be paid by a business along with all their other taxes. They will simply recoup it by higher prices - which will hit the less well off more than others - or their lower profits (unlikely!) would reduce other tax takes.
It doesn't matter how cleverly and secretly tax is levied as ultimately all taxes are paid by the consumer. Governments and councils must be made to stop grabbing our money at every turn.
Care should be a priority service, so they need to stop spending on things that matter less.
For example, how much do they spend on non jobs and fake charities? That should stop before they start increasing food prices.

subrosa said...

It's been lost as in abandoned Joe. I perhaps ought to be more accurate.

That's just my point, no other party has suggested where we can find £30m.

Surely you mean taxpayers and not collectors? These companies pay little to no tax.

subrosa said...

Me too Aangirfan. They've escaped for far too long with taxes and soft planning departments etc.

subrosa said...

It's a form-filling nightmare here too Edward and not all social workers are efficient.

subrosa said...

Woodsy, I never thought so many would support supermarket and multinationals.

Prices have risen by around 20% in the last year and nobody seems to have noticed. All I know of is a VAT increase on 1 January.

cynicalHighlander said...

Deal of the day We buy influence. Just like the unionist parties got cases of beer for opposing the minimum pricing. Vote for party ruled by corporate business = democracy?

subrosa said...

Many thanks for the link CH. Of course they do. Tesco have bought their way to becoming the largest supermarket in the UK.

Apogee said...

Hi SR, considering the way that Tesco in particular and I suspect the others as well can ramp up prices by 35 pence on a product that was previously £1.00, yes ,that is 35 % and then drop it again after two or three weeks, seem to do it on a lot of products,and you dont know what the real price is any more.
Seems to me that the pricing in these supermarkets is much more greedy than the proposed tax take.

I dont feel sorry for the likes of Tesco, they have done pretty well off our backs for a while now.
When the local store ,not known for philanthropy is selling similar lines to Tesco and cheaper, go figure.

subrosa said...

Morning Apogee. The problem is that many people don't have local stores anymore. There are none here other than a farm shop for veg etc. The supermarkets are nationals.

Woodsy42 said...

Hi Subrosa, No I'm not supporting supermarkets and multinationls as such, just reality, they are part of the system and do what they do.
Prices have indeed gone up recently, I suggest taxes (vat and energy)and deliberate deflation of the pound to disguise the inflationary effect of 'quantitative easing' are partly responsible. IE the government.
That's exactly why the authorities must learn to keep their hands out of the public's pocket and not take even more of our money. Hiding a tax grab behind a big fat multinational to make it sound morally justified (they can afford it!) doesn't stop it being a tax grab.

subrosa said...

Right enough prices have gone up but not just recently Woodsy, they've been creeping up for well over a year.

I don't see why the big supermarkets shouldn't pay a little more. After all they have had the run of planning departments for years. Try to erect a shed in your garden and planning will give you a hard time but with these businesses, no matter how the public object, they get exactly what they want with no hassle.

Time for pay for such privilege. :)

Woodsy42 said...

"they've been creeping up for well over a year."
Of course Subrosa, you only have to look at the value of the pound to see the devaluation, take the euro, it's £1=1.16E today. 5 years ago it was £1=1.50E yet it's the Euro that is supposed to be in trouble!
If you and the voters think big supermarkets have an unfair trading advantage and should pay more tax to create a better trading balance then so be it.
But my point is that such a backdoor tax, however it's dressed up, is not 'free money' just because it targets a large corporation.
You don't see Shell reducing their margins when petrol duty is increased, and neither will supermarkets. If their costs increase, however cuddly they like to be seen in their adverts they will maintain their margins.
As for planning issues, best not go there, they are arrogant liars who even refuse to accept the meaning of a word in the dictionary with the comment - "ah but it means something else in planning law" - even though the word under discussion was in the legal statute. But of course I wasn't offering any bribes, just wanted a downstairs shower room.

Joe Public said...

Don't blame me, I've just 'copied & pasted':-

"Senior health care solution -

So you're a sick senior citizen and the government says there is no nursing home available for you - what do you do?

Our plan gives anyone 65 years or older a gun and 4 bullets. You are allowed to shoot 2 MP’s and 2 illegal immigrants!

Of course, this means you will be sent to prison where you will get 3 meals a day, a roof over your head, central heating, air conditioning and all the health care you need! New teeth - no problem. Need glasses, great. New hip, knees, kidney, lungs, heart? All covered. (And your kids can come and visit you as often as they do now).

And who will be paying for all of this? The same government that just told you that you they cannot afford for you to go into a home.

Plus, because you are a prisoner, you don't have to pay any income taxes anymore. IS THIS A GREAT COUNTRY OR WHAT? "

subrosa said...

I do see your point Woodsy. There is no free money in this world (although there are plenty who would laugh at that). Everything has to be paid for by someone;s money.

You've given a fine example about how an individual is fleeced yet the likes of supermarkets get an easy ride. We're the mugs, yet I'm sure you protested, like I did when I wanted to install a wee ensuite. It was overpowering the pressure put on by the planning department and cost me a lot more money than necessary.

subrosa said...

Joe it was only recently some acquaintances were saying they'd be far better off stopping paying their council tax and TV licence. The thought of prison made their eyes sparkle.

Apogee said...

Hi SR, Joe's copy and paste would solve three problems, sounds good.

subrosa said...

It does Apogee, more and more each day with me.

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