This is a different sort of blog for me – it’s my journalist head trying to get at the truth of the matter, so this will be particularly relevant to you if you are disabled, in receipt of benefits or in need of social care.
Two important pieces of legislation are happening as we speak – The Health & Social Care Act and also the Welfare Reform Act 2012. These two laws have the potential to make significant change to how we provide health and social care and how we provide financial support to many groups in the country.
I’ve not got any particular political axe to grind – but I’m interested to know what people’s thoughts, feelings, hopes, worries or concerns are around these laws. I’m not at all sure that people know what is proposed in clear detail. For example, single parents will be encouraged strongly to work once their youngest child reaches five – at the moment it’s 16. Is that good or is that bad? It’s felt that too many people are claiming Disabled Living Allowance and there is an aim to cut that cost. So the DLA is to be replaced by the Personal Independence Payment. What does that mean in terms of assessment of need? Who will carry out the assessments and when?
Will changes to social and health care affect vulnerable groups – for good or ill? eg. dementia sufferers and/or their carers or families?
Another thing which interests me is the idea of an organisation called Monitor overseeing or looking at the health service – what’s that all about? Is this a private company scrutinising a public service? Is that a good or bad thing?
Are there any thorny questions around these laws?
Are there any groups out there who are actively campaigning? Or is the public feeling that there are too many scroungers getting an easy life by not working and claiming everything under the sun? I’m skeptical that that is the case but I could be wrong?
Please let me know your thoughts and feelings? Do comment. Or send personal message which I can keep private (though please clearly state if you want that to be the case).
I cannot help but write about the phone-hacking scandal which continues to rumble on – it’s there in the background for most people but for journalists it’s still the main topic of conversation.
As I’ve intimated previously that’s because we’re feeling that we’re all being tarred with the same brush as the few who either broke the law, or who got others to do it for them, in pursuit of a big story and the subsequent big bucks.
Some have raised eyebrows that an editor cannot know what his/her journalists are doing? But it’s possible, especially if you are not asking too many questions and your budget is so big that
Journalists can tell good stories without breaking the law
invoices adding up to £100k don’t register.
For most of us in the regional world of journalism that doesn’t happen. Money is so tight that such a spend would stick out like a sore thumb.
Another issue that’s worthy of consideration is the suggestion that police officers in the Met (and possibly elsewhere) may have taken money from journalists.
It’s amazing how many people think that journalists carry around a chequebook from their employer to wave around at potential interviewees.
Such a practice may be common place for national journalists but I’ve not come across it in local settings or even national television.
The only things I’ve ever paid for are as follows: travelling expenses, child care costs, loss of earnings which can be proved, payment of a telephone bill for a low income family where we needed regular contact over number of months, occasional donation to charity for use of facilities, occasional location fees for businesses.
When working on an antiques programme a few years ago I used to pay cash to traders/stall holders to use their space for a period of filming if it was going to disrupt business for more than ten minutes.
I’ve been asked for money many, many times by possible interviewees and have said no. As journalists we’re not allowed to pay anyone with criminal convictions, and I’d never dream of giving cash to a police officer. I may be naive, even after 20 years, but I’ve always been suspicious of anyone who’s first thought is to ask for money.
There are still many, many good people out there who tell their personal stories in order to spread the word, heighten public awareness alongside my need to make a good tv programme. Indeed, people will often take days off work just to take part in filming and never ask for a penny.
Tomorrow I’m filming with a family where the father suffers from severe OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder). Mum is taking a day off work to be with us (something we did not request). This is a sign of how important this family feels it is to highlight the issues around this mental disorder.
However this phone-hacking saga develops in the next days and weeks – remember this, there are good people around with relevant stories to tell and share.