Why are family carers so undervalued in this country?
Not by disabled people but by the State?
Why are politicians and Government Departments so seemingly unable to reward these wonderful people for the work they do and the money they are saving the nation every single day. Family carers, men and women who, in some cases, are putting their own lives on hold to look after someone else are having to struggle to survive on a pittance. There is a Welfare Benefit payment for carers but, for the work they do, it is nowhere near enough.
The rules on eligibility for Carers Allowance, state that care must be provided for at least thirty-five hours every week of every month of every year. Non stop. Without a break. Not only that but there are strict limits on how much a carer is allowed to earn from paid employment, should they be lucky enough to secure a job. At present that is £110 per week.
In return for this dedication, carers are rewarded with a weekly social security payment of £62.10. That is all. £62.10 per week for back-breaking, exhausting, relentless work, day in, day out, for years. And that’s not even £62.10 for each disabled person in the family that is being cared for. £62.10 is the total amount that can be paid. A family carer may be providing care for both of their parents or for more than one disabled child or for their disabled partner and their disabled child but they get the same amount in benefit whether they are looking after one person or several.
Why? Why so little?
Family carers are saving the country millions of pounds every year and deserve so much more for what they do. If it wasn’t for them disabled people nationwide would have to be cared for by the State. Hard-pressed, over-stretched Social Services Departments would have to provide homecare or ensure there was sufficient State funded residential care for so many people and, as things are, they would just not be able to cope.
As a disabled person I receive care on a daily basis from agency carers provided by my local Social Services Department. Two carers at a time, three times every day, every day, every week, every month, every year, for an average of sixty minutes each, every time, and these carers are paid £7.50 per hour each for this work. For what they have to do I don’t believe this is a very high rate of pay. If I could afford to I would pay them far more, but, combined with what they receive for their work for other disabled people, at least it’s a living.
Compare that with the £62.10 family carers receive for the same amount of work. It’s an appalling state of affairs. £62.20 is a paltry, derisory amount. My children used to provide me with all the care I needed and with the care that is now provided by Social Services and all they received was Carers Allowance of less than £100 every week. Not each but between them. Less than £100 every week, between two of them. Less than £100 every week, between two of them, for a minimum of thirty-five hours of hard work every week. And they did this for years, from the ages of twelve and fourteen.
Family carers should receive so much more. Carers Allowance should, at least, be paid at a rate that would allow a family carer to live a comfortable life, not hand-to-mouth existence as they do at present. Carers Allowance should be paid at at least the same rate as the cost of the Social Services care that is being saved. As a carer has to be providing at least thirty-five hours care every week, if they were being paid at £7.50 per hour, they should be receiving at least £262.50 every week in Carers Allowance. Not £62.10, £262.50. The State should be thanking carers for the work they do and their dedication every single day, not brushing the work they do under the carpet condemning them to never-ending poverty.
Give family carers the recognition they are due, the recognition they deserve and pay them for the work they do. £62.10 every week is nowhere near enough and it is time that it was changed for something a lot better. Pay carers a welfare benefit that is at least the same as they would receive as a living wage for what they do. Allow family carers to actually live not just exist. Say thank you, say it now and say it properly.