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One More For The Road ... ? - Carers UK Forum

One More For The Road ... ?

Discuss news stories and political issues that affect carers.
Numerous articles have been written over the years by well meaning ... and some not well meaning ... journalists on carers.

One I consider to be near to the top in expressing precisely what is needed to ease our collective plight :
For decades carers have been lauded but not heard, praised but not rewarded.

Successive governments have hailed carers as heroes. Party leaders and MPs have eagerly turned up for photoshoots with world-wearied carers and proceeded to trot out the lines of “unsung heroes” “saving the country millions in care costs.”

But then comes the inevitable walk-away. Photo-op done, issue forgotten about.

So let’s change the narrative. Let’s talk about the issues that really matter to carers and let’s campaign for a revolution in how carers are treated, supported and financially rewarded in a socially just Britain in the 21st century.

Carers and the disabled or elderly person(s) they care for need to be treated not as stand-alone individuals but with needs that are linked — a holistic approach.

We need to join up GPs, hospitals and social services with a care and support package for both the receiving care and the carer.

The current swathes of red tape concerning disability living allowance and the new personal independence payment present a maze of confusion for any carer attempting to negotiate the system.

A GP assessment of the person being cared for alongside the carer and a referral to social services where the carer’s needs are assessed would be a good starting point, so that carers are treated with respect and dignity.

Social services can provide support on caring for the disabled/elderly person, advice on respite breaks and also support carers when the going gets tough.

Carers may have to cope with a whole lifetime on carer’s allowance if they have a child born with disabilities, for example. Or if they are caring for someone with a degenerative illness they may find they have to give up their job suddenly and take on a full-time caring role.

Current rules mean that over-16s can only claim carer’s allowance at the derisory rate of £61.25 a week if they are caring for a person for more than 35 hours per week.

Some carers support more than one person with a disability, yet receive the same pitiful £61.25 a week whether caring for one person or three. This needs a radical rethink.

Even more disgracefully, young carers under 16 — and there are currently 700,000 of them in the UK — receive £0. Most, if not all, are juggling school with caring responsibilities.

How is that deemed acceptable in 21st century Britain?

No child should be caring for a parent or relative alone, yet this supposedly civilised country expects them to. Not only do we expect them to, but we also expect them to do it for nothing.

The whole system of carer’s allowance is archaic, unreasonable and not fit for purpose yet no government seems keen to tackle it.

There are seven million disabled people in the UK. There are 6.5 million carers.

Even on a cynical basis, why has no political party stopped to think about the number of votes it could potentially gain if it reached out to both?

Some carers may feel able to juggle caring with paid employment.

Yet straight away the DWP imposes strict rules for daring to do so. If you earn 1p over the permitted £100 a week, your carer’s allowance is stopped completely.

This has huge financial implications and becomes a game of cat and mouse with employers.

I recently spoke to a cleaner at a nursing home, who was balancing caring for her elderly mum with Alzheimer’s with a part-time cleaning job.

As Mum lived with her, she wanted the job to give her some independence and time for herself and to earn some much-needed cash.

She had arranged with social services for Mum to go to a day-care centre from 9am to 2pm for three days a week.

Her employer was incredibly supportive and asked her to consider working more hours as she is a good conscientious worker.

However although she would love to take her employer up on the offer, she cannot or she will lose her carer’s allowance for breaching the £100-a-week rule.

This is a totally unfair and unjust DWP policy and one that needs changing now.

Carers who work are more often than not working in either a menial minimum wage job or trying to scrabble a few pennies together perhaps by becoming self-employed.

I know because, as a parent of an autistic son, I worked as a self-employed sales rep myself. The pay is pitiful and it takes a lot of effort and expenditure on petrol to do your sales round.

There are many carers trapped in a life of poverty simply due to caring for disabled relatives.

It is time to actually face up to the fact that carers have talents other than caring.

Our choices have been taken away, often overnight, and careers halted and aspirations crushed.

Again let’s campaign to get this old narrative changed. If carers have the sheer will and guts to juggle caring with work let’s financially reward their efforts, do away with this ludicrous limit on £100 a week and help carers as much as we can.

Carers are being broken under the current system — these heroes who save the country millions every year in care costs.

The forgotten heroes. Let’s fight for a system that encourages their talents and aspirations and acknowledges the huge burden of caring responsibilities.

We need a new system that has an inbuilt safeguard of GP and social services assessments and that pays carers a realistic amount in carer’s allowance.

I would boldly propose at least minimum wage and moving to a living wage, but I think a realistic starting point would be to raise carer’s allowance to a basic £100 a week with annual reviews and campaigning to progress to a decent level of payment. Once the bureaucracy is simplified, this is a realistic proposal.

So stop the empty rhetoric, the half-hearted sympathy. Carers do not want your sympathy.

They want a government that recognises their value, rewards their hard work, and gives them avenues out of poverty without punishing them. Not too much to ask, surely?

What would surprise most readers is that article was published in the Morning Star ... hardly a publication many would choose to read ... occasionly , they come up trumps ( If one ignores the remainer ).

There are no politics in caring .... merely perceived poverty.
Given the Morning Star's politics, it shouldn't surprise anyone!

Thank you for posting the article though - it probably will get more readership here than in the MS....

In the end the whole question boils down to 'Should the state, or the individual, pay for the cost of care for 'un-able' people who not only can't earn their own living, but who require another individual to keep them alive'.
Tough decision .... anything considered to be " Subversive " as quoting the article's source publication ... may have triggered alarm bells in the habitat of the Central Scrutenizers .... yes , I am a Zappa fan.

Thankfully , no alarm bells .... after all , carers have friends in all places , some more palatable to Joe Public than others. To ignore those in the " Dark World " would be a mistake.
Excellent article. I wonder who wrote it? ;)
Bernadette Horton.
I agree with every word!
Now that I'm on a pension, I increasingly like the notion of a Universal Wage, or whatever it's called, whereby every adult UK citizen gets a 'wage' or 'income' out of the 'national purse' irrespective of 'need'. It would be a 'keep the wolf from the door' wage, and would mean the government could save the millions of pounds it must cost to administer the clunky, uneven and often very unfair benefits system.

I say this because the 'bliss' of knowing that I have 'x' amount of money coming in, month after month, without me having to work for it (because, of course, my husband and I worked all our lives for it!), is incredibly 'reassuring'.

PS - memo to government and journalists. The Old Age Pension is NOT A BENEFIT! It is a DIVIDEND from capital accured over a LIFETIME of contributions! WE HAVE PAID INTO OUR PENSIONS - now we are COLLECTING them. It is NOT A BENEFIT! Grrrrrr!
jenny lucas wrote: PS - memo to government and journalists. The Old Age Pension is NOT A BENEFIT! It is a DIVIDEND from capital accured over a LIFETIME of contributions! WE HAVE PAID INTO OUR PENSIONS - now we are COLLECTING them. It is NOT A BENEFIT! Grrrrrr!
Actually Jenny we are not collecting what WE have paid in - we are collecting what the younger generation are currently paying in ! There is no way that the Government could pay out pensions equivalent to what we are currently getting from the money we paid in - there just wouldn't be enough :shock: It's simple demographics - as each generation lives longer it produces more senior citizens needing a pension ! It's one of the reasons the Government keeps raising the pension age!
Susie - but that is EXACTLY the problem! WE paid in - and the government of that time promptly spent it, instead of putting it aside/investing it, so that decades later it can then be drawn on to pay us our pensions from. This is what private pensions do, this is what individuals do - but the spendthrift government just sees current revenues as 'theirs' to spend, heedless of who it is designated for!

It's because of that, because the government are now trying to pay OUR pensions with current NI, when our working population was so much higher, and the current working population is so much lower, that they are in such a damn mess and panic about it (prompting them to scream for ever more and more people to come to the UK and work, so they can boost the national NI 'take' from which they pay out OUR pensions.)(an impossible game of tail chasing!)

Its absolutely appalling financial management - unforgiveable!

The ONLY government that ever had to pay pensions out of the current 'take' from the working population was the government that introduced them before the first world war.....every subsequent government will have had the options of putting aside NI payments until those paying it were old enough to get it all back as pensions!!!!
I think you'll find that the number of people in work and paying NI in the UK has been steadily rising, thanks to more women in work and those hard-working immigrants from the EU and elsewhere, who are mostly of working age, and who are far more likely to be in employment than the indigenous population.
Don't forget that migrants save us a fortune in education and health costs - they come ready for work, unlike our own children who will have already cost several hundred thousand pounds to raise and educate. And that many of them are here for a few years and then return home.
Arguably the NI has been invested in our infrastructure - schools, hospitals, social housing, bridges and roads: it hasn't been lost, just invested. All those things cost money and have a very real value. (Wait for the Tories to try and sell them off, just as Labour sold all the gold reserves)
I don't agree with your excitable analysis, Jenny, because nobody could have predicted the astonishing rise in the average life expectancy to the current 85 years or more .. meaning that we now spend twenty years in retirement rather than dropping dead at 67 or 70. Hence the recent adjustment in retirement age upwards.