Monday, 18 April 2011

Minister Paul Burstow MP Backs "Clear Plan of Action for the People of Reading"

Today it was a pleasure to welcome Paul Burstow MP - Care Services Minister to Reading. This is the second ministerial visit we have had in recent weeks in support of our local election campaign - following Andrew Stunell MP's visit a few weeks ago.

The Lib Dem team in Reading works hard all year round to improve the lives of local residents so it is nice to get support and recognition for what we do from senior figures within the Party and within Government.

I was particularly pleased Paul Burstow chose to visit us as social care is one of the issues closest to my heart. 

Like me Paul is passionate about this area of policy- in particular improving the lives of vulnerable people and championing the rights of carers - the unsung heroes in our community.Thanks to the hard work done by Paul Burstow and his team improving care and support for carers and vulnerable people is right at the heart of national government policy and The Coalition Agreement.

I have got to know Paul quite well as he holds regular conference calls with councillors so he can keep us up to speed with issues in Government and so more importantly we can feed key issues and concerns back to him.

I had been badgering Paul to come and visit us for a while. He has had a good excuse having been very busy leading the Coalition Government's health and social care agenda for the Lib Dems.

Paul Burstow came to Reading to help us launch our Local Election Manifesto: "Six to Fix".

This is focussed around 6 broad themes:
  1. Cut waste, protect services and keep taxes low.
  2. Protect services to the vulnerable.
  3. A cleaner and greener Reading.
  4. Cutting crime in Reading.
  5. Giving children and young people the best start in life.
  6. Better housing and decent neighbourhoods for all.
I sent Paul a copy of our manifesto before he arrived and he told me:
 'It looks like a solid record of delivery and clear plan of action for the people of Reading."
Paul was a councillor in Sutton for a number of years before he became an MP and has visited many councils up and down the country so I really respect his opinion.

 I talked to him about the work I have led to transform adult social care in Reading to make it fairer and more sustainable. We also talked at length about the work we have been doing in Reading to help improve the lives of carers.

Cllr Kirsten Bayes talked to Paul about the work she has led to balance the Council's budget whilst protecting vital services - no easy task.

After the manifesto launch in Forbury Gardens we took Paul to meet a couple who live in West Reading who have benefited from Direct Payments. She is a full-time carer to her husband who suffered from a Stroke a few years ago.

Direct Payments enable carers and the people they care for to choose what they spend their personal budget on. The Coalition Government is looking to extend this to a wider range of people in the future. 

I have got to know this lovely couple through my work as Lead Councillor for Community Care in Reading. I went to meet them a few of weeks ago to learn first hand about their experiences with self-directed support to help inform my decisions around social care in Reading.

I was very keen to see how they were doing and introduce them to Paul who I know cares deeply about these issues. 

Paul listened intently to what they had to say and talked about the Government's desire to promote choice and independence for people through the reforms he is leading on social care.

Speaking to the residents afterwards they said they enjoyed meeting Paul and really liked his informal style. He really knows his stuff so it was great to hear what he had to say.

I also picked up a few pointers from the visit about how we can make life easier for carers around planning respite care. I will be taking these issues up with Council officers to see what we can do to help carers.

Paul seemed very impressed by what he saw in Reading today and has promised to return to see the work we are doing again soon.

No comments:

Post a Comment