THE LAST DITCH An Englishman returned after twenty years abroad blogs about liberty in Britain
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Catalogue of abuse in NHS care homes | Social care |

Link: Catalogue of abuse in NHS care homes | Social care |

No-one will look after you if you are too old or disabled to do it yourself, except members of your family or those paid for by (and accountable to) them. Perhaps this should not be true, but - as a generalisation and subject to all usual exceptions for particularly noble individuals - it is.

State "social" services are effectively answerable to no-one. Politicians achieve their goals by setting them up, funding them and periodically stating their noble goals. What they actually do (except when an occasional scandal has to be blamed on "bad apples") is politically irrelevant. Democratic accountability (flicking a switch every five years) is OK for general policy, but useless for day-to-day detail. Besides, Ministers are politically obliged to pretend that (bad apples apart) all is well, whatever their distant and unknown minions do. The alternative is to admit that State services almost always suck (which no Socialist can) or that Ministers are almost invariably incompetents who couldn't hack it in the real world (which no Conservative will).

This story may surprise Guardianistas, but it does not surprise anyone with any exposure to State services in Britain or elsewhere. An old school acquaintance works in a nursing home and tells stories more appalling than these. I went to school with pupils from the infamous children's homes in North Wales which were effectively run for 20 years as brothels by a paedophile ring of State employees. These stories are no accidents. They are the inevitable consequence of people working for politically-led organisations, whose promotion does not depend upon good service and who cannot be fired for bad service.

For all the Socialist clap-trap that we hear from the BBC and other media these days, my experience is that the cold, hard market is kinder than the State. No-one will knowingly pay to be abused - or for their Mum or their orphaned nephew to be abused. It takes "social" provision to achieve that, by taking their money by force and giving it to people with no incentive to perform.

Of course the poor, halt and lame should be cared for. But Government should limit its "social services" to writing cheques for private provision to those who cannot otherwise afford it. The families of those being cared for should decide where those cheques are sent because they are more likely to care. Of course private service provision will not be perfect. Nothing human is. Crooks, sadists and paedophiles will inevitably try to find jobs near to the vulnerable. There will be family members who don't care. Families are not perfect either.

But the providers of "caring" services are likely to perform better on average when their incomes depend on pleasing the families of those in their care, not on a remote and inherently incompetent Government.