Constituents contact me for help with a wide range of problems. Often they have exhausted all other options. Financial difficulties can be the hardest to help with.
Often people have been unable to build up savings and a sudden change of circumstances such a job loss or ill health means that families find themselves in financial difficulty quite quickly with spiralling debt. In desperation people take out short-term loans charging huge interest – which just add to their mountain of debt.
Sometimes they get to a situation where they cannot afford to buy food and have to rely on food banks.
It’s so important for people to seek expert advice, and there is practical help available from the Council’s team of debt advisors and from Stockport Homes. There is also the StepChange debt charity which offers free online advice and support to people worried about debt.
We need to give families a breathing space to get their finances back into shape and be able to eat and pay their bills whilst working out arrangements with creditors to pay back their debt.
I am supporting the calls by charities for the introduction of a <strong><em>Breathing Space</em></strong> scheme that would give people a period of protection from mounting charges and enforcement action while they seek expert advice to tackle their debts.
Families who are in debt and are trying to sort it out shouldn’t be pushed into further debt and crisis because of mounting debt charges and enforcement action.
A <strong><em>Breathing Space</em></strong> Scheme would help stop this happening.
At a time when the health service is under financial pressure, and our attention is drawn to cuts at Stepping Hill, it’s important that we don’t ignore the invisible crisis which is unfolding in adult social care. The sad truth is that vulnerable and elderly people are trapped in hospital beds because there is nowhere to care for them in the community. Care homes, social services and home care agencies are all struggling to cope, due to increasing demand and decreasing resources. Patients can’t be discharged from hospital to inadequate social care and inadequate social care increases admissions to hospitals.
Inadequate social care also increases the pressure on families.
I would like to thank everyone who has taken part in my recent survey about the experience of caring in Stockport.
The number of people with caring responsibilities is growing, with families and neighbours playing a vital role in looking after friends or relatives. Many are caring 52 weeks a year without being able to take a break, isolated at home or trying to juggle their responsibilities at work with their caring role.
Families looking after a loved one with dementia seem particularly stretched. I am full of admiration for the dedicated volunteers I have met, for example in Heaton Moor, where there is a weekly Dementia drop-in for people with dementia and their carers to share experiences and information. However, this kind of support is patchy across Stockport, and relies entirely on volunteers such as Beryl Whitehead.
This summer I have the opportunity to make sure the concerns of carers and those who support carers such as Beryl are heard by the Government. I have provided submissions based on the experiences of my constituents in Stockport to the consultation by the Department of Health on a new Carers Strategy and to the Select Committee on Communities and Local Government inquiry into adult social care offering some practical recommendations to help carers.
Adult social care is at breaking point and there needs to be some radical new thinking on how we can better work with families to use all available resources to offer those at the end of their lives the dignity and respect they deserve.