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Carers UK Forum • cheap labour
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cheap labour

Posted: Wed Dec 04, 2013 8:40 pm
by wornoutbattling
I gave up work to become a full time carer. For this service the government is willing to pay me £58.45 for a 35 hour week. That’s £1.67 per hour. £4.64 below the national minimum wage. Isn’t that what they call sweated labour? Isn’t it time carers became more vociferous and more militant in demands for a proper wage, and more importantly, decent joined up treatment/support for carees. In my own experience, the way carers are treated by the government and the way elderly people (or anyway, my AP, and those of friends) are treated by the NHS is truly shocking. Eat good food seems to be all that’s offered by way of support. It seems the government treats carers in the same way Victorian factory owners treated their apprentice boys – don’t change their lot, change their diet. Feed them well so they last longer.
Being a carer isn’t just about the “caring” bit, it’s about having to run someone else’s life and dealing with all the paperwork, officialdom and frustrations that entails. It’s having to run your own life x 2.
This is my job description for today. Goodness me, anyone would jump at the chance of a job like this at the rate of £1.67 per hour. Think I’ll post it up in the job centre, see how many takers there are.
Call at 9.30 am from warden at 92 year old Aged Parent’s sheltered accommodation to say AP slipped out of bed this morning and District Nurse has summoned GP. Travel 90 minutes by 3 buses to get to Aged Parent’s former home to wait for gas people who need to do their bi-annual check on the gas meter. They have a 2 hour time slot to arrive, between 12 and 2. Wait in cold, damp, empty house for 2 hours. Call from warden to say GP’s visited AP and says she’s fine. Gas man doesn’t arrive. Have to leave house to travel to AP in sheltered accommodation. There’s a letter from Eon to say we owe money (we don’t). Phone them to check it out, am told they cannot speak to me about it, they can only speak to the customer. Tell them customer is my AP and I am her attorney, I’ve been signing cheques and sending them payments for the last 4 years. Doesn’t count. I’m not on their system. They want to speak to AP to ask her security questions. Tell them she has dementia, and she doesn’t know what electricity is these days, never mind security questions. Doesn’t matter. They can’t speak to me, only to AP. I say I’ll write. Woman says it won’t make any difference. Clear food away from AP’s bedside table which the carer has left out, immediately below a notice I’d put on the wall asking that no food be left out for reasons of hygiene. Clean up crumbs and detritus in kitchen left by carer, despite notice on the wall asking that crumbs be cleared up for reasons of hygiene. Phone cataract clinic to change appointment (which we’ve been waiting 3 years for) – they’ve sent one for so late in the day that AP will be fast asleep by the time we’re supposed to be leaving home to get there. Phone District Nursing team to ask if they’ve completed AP’s in/continence assessment yet. Am told they have to prioritise and it may be next week. Tell them this is the 5th phone call to them and each time they say it will happen the following week. Tell them I first requested an assessment 11 weeks ago. Am told to ring again next week. Cup of tea and snack with AP, answer the same muddled questions endlessly. Leave AP to begin 90 minute journey home by bus. Halfway home get call from Care Call to say AP’s pressed her alarm pendant and they are about to attend the scene. Get off bus, cross road and wait for bus back to AP’s. Call from Care Call to say AP pressed alarm by mistake. Cross road and wait for bus home. Arrive home, call from Care Call to say concerned neighbours have pressed the Care Call alarm as AP has wondered into communal lounge. Call neighbour who tells me AP is now back in her flat and back in bed. Call AP to make sure she’s safe and sound and back in bed. It’s 7.15 pm. All the running around’s been done, but my phone stays in my pocket as I’m on 24 hour standby.

Re: cheap labour

Posted: Wed Dec 04, 2013 9:34 pm
by bowlingbun
Sounds about right for an average day! But you've been too kind to the government, you are working or on call 24/7, so you've grossly overestimated your hourly rate. I raised this issue at the 2004 Carers UK AGM, I proposed that CA ought to at least equal the minimum wage. Motion passed with about 97%. Little happened since. Our status is that of a slave, no right to annual leave, time off when sick. Slavery is supposed to be outlawed in the UK - but it's alive and well with the likes of us.

Re: cheap labour

Posted: Mon Dec 09, 2013 12:08 pm
by Sajehar
Regarding lady from Eon, she was wrong. A letter will make all the difference in the world.
That's why they don't want you writing to them in first place. Ditto emails.In fact many power companies have a policy whereby if they don't respond to a complaint/billing query within a set time (usually a working week) they then owe you money (usually about £20.) But without proof you are stuffed.
NEVER speak to power companies over the phone, email them (you're clearly on line, or wouldn't be on forum.) The minute your fingers hit that keyboard, or wield that biro, you're establishing a paper trail.. the last thing they want.

Re: cheap labour

Posted: Mon Dec 09, 2013 4:19 pm
by Scally
Pretty hard day, {{hugs}} and you are right, it is a very poor remuneration for what we do. Luckily my own caring role is very light: I'm sharing my office with my lad, J, whilst he watches movies on his computer, so I'm just a bit of company really. Next thing we'll do the laundry together, he just needs a bit of direction and guidance. Got a lovely big hug when he came in from college too: he's a real delight.
Totally agree about the papertrail: that's how bureaucracies work, phone calls are just ignored.

Re: cheap labour

Posted: Tue Dec 10, 2013 11:46 am
by bowlingbun
Sussex, have you applied to be a DWP appointee for your mum? I deal with all M's benefits in this way.

Re: cheap labour

Posted: Tue Feb 04, 2014 4:23 pm
by Frank Collins
As a full time carer for my wife I receive the princely sum of £59.75 per week carer's allowance. However, as we receive income support, the CA is treated as income and therefore deducted from the income support. Many people say that unpaid carers save the Govt millions and that CA is a paltry amount for full time caring. To have it then treated as income and therefore deducted from income support means that my position is even more unjust. In effect I get nothing for being a carer and yet save the country a fortune. I wrote to Ian Duncan Smith about this but was ignored. I was asking him to consider abolishing the rule that CA was income for other benefits. That would go a very small way to compensating for the 24/7 care I give to my wife (absolutely willingly I may say). The government know that many loving carers would not leave caring to strangers and are willing to give up often well paid work to provide the care for their loved ones. We are then treated as fools. "We are all in this together. Carers are doing their bit to a vastly greater extent than anyone else. We save the country much, much more than we ever get back so we can't do more to help the economy. On top of that the bedroom tax now punishes us if we have a spare room, even if the house has been adapted for the disabled person's needs. This has to change!!

Re: cheap labour

Posted: Tue Feb 04, 2014 5:07 pm
by bowlingbun
I agree, it's not fair, however just check your Income Support, have you got a "disability premium" added, and I think there should be a "Carer Premium" too? Make sure the Council know you have been awarded IS, so they can adjust any housing benefit accordingly, if you are in rented accommodation; and also make sure that the council tax department know too. Tell them individually, just in case they have communication problems. It also affects prescription charges.

Re: cheap labour

Posted: Tue Feb 04, 2014 6:16 pm
by Scally
The Green Party will bring in a decent non-means tested citizens income for all to replace this mish-mash of unfairness: none of the other parties have been willing to challenge the whole pack of crumbling cards that constitutes the Welfare State. It is affordable, but will obviously require higher taxation on earnings. But who wouldn't want income security for all and an end to the cliff edges of income support, housing benefit, carers allowance: so that we could earn a few bob and not have to watch our backs in case we earn £101 by mistake rather than £99, and lose the £59 CA ?

Re: cheap labour

Posted: Sun Mar 02, 2014 11:27 pm
by Laura Lee
I agree, it is very upsetting and unfair, the gov. making carer's life a misery with limiting their incomes and keeping them far below the real costs of living. If they don't want to pay more, at least they should give a chance those, who can afford to work a bit more, to earn a bit more. Full time carers would really deserve a minimum wage. My partner is caring for a teenager with mental problems, an why his son is far not the most difficult person to care for-phísically not disabled, not aggressive- yet running his life and supporting/entertaining/escorting this boy equals more than 2 full time jobs(calculate the hourly rate), without a break and day off. I know this because I do similar support work, working with mentally disabled people in care homes. While not all of these people in LD homes are equally generously funded, yet they, and their families all are very privileged compared to families struggling at home, with minimal or no help at all, sentenced to a lifetime of poverty, and living with limited opportunities. I ve got an elderly mother abroad,and since my partner's son has been living with us, I can hardly afford to visit my mother, although she needs help, too. My partner cannot visit his old and sick mother in London, simply can't afford the journey from the South-West of England. I ve been working more than full time in the past 2 years- which means, I cannot really help my partner with supporting his son, but I have to pay the bigger part of the rent- we rent privately, pay full council tax- and I have to cover any extra costs that arise. I nearly always finish the month with being overdrawn. I am feeling more and more worn out emotionally. It is enfuriating, how the state declares, that carers are not even allowed to earn a few pounds more. After all, they would be too rich to be supported if they earned 5-600 a month, at the recent cost of living.They shouldn't be so greedy, or want any more from life than a sheer physical survival, at the very minimum, basic level. Of course, not everybody is in the position to work at all.

Re: cheap labour

Posted: Sun Mar 02, 2014 11:57 pm
by Scally
It is all down to a basic lack of trust. The government is willing to pay upwards of £100,000 a year to provide institutional support to people with no carers available, but is convinced that if they pay carers a basic decency wage of say £12,000 a year, we will all spend it on drugs and gambling and quit our proper jobs to live the life of Riley. I'd call that a moral panic, and there are no facts to back it up: carers I know want to work, but are torn between a rock and a hard place. This must change, and Carers UK (members and staff - we are all part of this) haven't been working hard enough to make it happen.