IT was very moving: a radio interview with the relatives of a young person who had died in tragic circumstances talking about their nine-year battle to seek the truth about his death. Their struggle to find out the truth and prevent the recurrence of similar cases in the future eventually being rewarded when an enquiry found that more should have been done to save his life.

“He was a ray of sunshine; he made everyone smile... but it seems that some lives are just more valuable than others…” Lines from the interview that I can’t get out of my mind; shocking and true. Their son was disabled and did not receive the support he should have.

One of the inherent problems with capitalism, one that was conveniently overlooked by our Prime Minister in her recent defence of it, is that human lives are given value and meaning through their ability to contribute to profit and financial capital. Bankers continue to receive eye-watering bonuses, while nurses, teachers, social workers and the police have seen the real value of their pay reduce with annual pay rises significantly below the levels of inflation. Care workers – nursery staff and those providing residential care to the elderly - receive the minimum wage and apprenticeships are now being used to further bolster the supply of cheap and unskilled labour to care for the most vulnerable.

Those who are unable to contribute to the nation’s wealth – the frail, the elderly and those with learning difficulties or long-term health needs – are regarded as an inconvenience and burden to the economy. As the government looks to find ways of reducing the nation’s debt, they will continue to bear the brunt of the cuts.

On a recent visit to Monkey World, I was intrigued by the lengths to which keepers go to provide ‘enrichment’ activities to keep their charges entertained and to compensate for a life in captivity. In stark contrast, the only ‘enrichment’ I could see when I visited a relative living with dementia in a local care home was a TV in a day room. Last month only 1.4 per cent of care homes inspected by the Care Quality Commission provided ‘outstanding’ care; 37 per cent were rated inadequate or required improvement. It says something when we care more about the mental health and quality of life of rescued apes than we do for the elderly whose active lives were spent creating the wealth that we enjoy today.

Dostoevsky once claimed that you could judge a society by observing how it treats its prisoners. 150 years later you don’t need to visit a prison – just pop into your local care home or compare the pay slip of a frontline worker in health, education or social services with those who work in the financial sector to form a judgement, and to realise that some lives are indeed considered more valuable than others.