Tag Archives: carer

Hancock: care workers can’t have ‘Real Living Wage’ – but let’s remember he offered them a nice badge

Up your…: last week, Matt Hancock offered carers… a badge. This is what they said he could do with it.

Right after offering carers a badge instead of genuine government investment, Matt Hancock has denied them the real living wage.

Let’s clarify, quickly: the real living wage is a wage that covers real living expenses, and is currently set at £10.75 in London and £9.30 in the rest of the UK for anybody aged 18 and older.

Hancock came out with the mealy-mouthed excuse that carers are already paid the National Living Wage, which is only £8.21 – and applicable only to people aged over 25. It doesn’t cover the cost of living, meaning its description as a “living wage” is false.

And let’s remember that MP’s have been given an extra £10,000 – above their already-enormous salaries – to help them work at home, which is something carers do all the time.

What a charmer.

Hancock was responding to SNP health spokesperson Dr Philippa Whitford who pointed out that carers in Scotland are already paid the real living wage and asked when the Tory government would do the same for those in England.

She also asked him to reverse a 20 per cent cut in public health funding imposed by the Tories in 2015 – but that didn’t even get a response.

It seems the only hand Hancock has for carers is when he’s clapping for them on his doorstep – if he ever bothers.

Source: Matt Hancock refuses to commit to paying care workers the ‘Real Living Wage’ – Welfare Weekly

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As an unpaid carer, I had to think about these shock statistics about us before realising they’re true 

Unpaid carers save the public purse £132bn a year but get little in return.

At first, I thought I must be one of the lucky eight per cent.

New statistics from Carers UK show that only eight per cent of unpaid carers – those of us who don’t do it as a career but because we have to – have been able to take a break from caring sufficient to, for example, visit the doctor.

Yes, but then I tried to remember the last time I saw a doctor – at an appointment that wasn’t for Mrs Mike.

I can’t remember when that was.

I don’t actually need to see a doctor, mind. That might have a lot to do with it. And I wonder about statistics that say one-third of unpaid carers would use time off to see a doctor.

If the UK is using people with illnesses to care for people with illnesses – and/or disabilities – that should be ample evidence that the system is broken and must change.

Evidence that 44 per cent of those who managed to get time off then used it to see a doctor suggests that the situation is even worse.

So now I was counting myself lucky for a different reason.

Then I saw the statistic showing that fully half of unpaid carers would use time off caring to catch up on much-needed sleep.

I understand that one all too well.

You see, as a carer, you never know when you will be needed. I was awakened in the early hours of the morning because Mrs Mike was in a lot of pain.

It makes for an unpredictable, interrupted schedule. And ruins sleep patterns.

It hasn’t ruined my health – so far. Maybe I’m extra-lucky.

But it seems clear that many, many people aren’t.

Replacement care may be expensive – and poor-quality. And if I want it, I may find myself subject to a postcode lottery.

NHS spending on support for carers varies hugely, depending on where people live.

And the simple fact is that there is no co-ordinated social care system throughout the UK – despite the fact that social care was included in the remit of the Department of Health (and its title) a considerable while ago.

We hear that plans are due to be unveiled every now and then… and then we hear that they’ve been delayed.

Has anybody written a single line of such a plan?

Selfishly, I’m concerned about this. While I’m in good nick at the moment, I can’t be sure that will last forever.

The Carers UK report paints a picture of not just thousands, but hundreds of thousands of people burning out – putting their own health at serious risk – just to improve a loved one’s quality of life for a while longer.

Carers UK wants the Government to double the Better Care Fund, which supports carers’ breaks, from £130 million to £260 million and ensure this money is ring-fenced so that carers around the country can get the breaks they need.

But I think this is just applying a sticking plaster to a wound that is getting deeper and deeper.

The answer is a co-ordinated strategy – not a random and rare chance at an all-too-short break.

My mistake: Carers facing DWP crackdown don’t just save billions. They save more than £100 BILLION

Remember a few weeks ago, when I reported that the DWP is planning to impoverish carers in a crackdown intended to bring £150 million back to the Treasury?

I stated that this was an attack on people who save the Treasury more than £14 billion in the cost of providing professional care services.

It seems my calculations were a little off.

Here’s Carers UK:

“The 6.8 million people who provide unpaid care for a disabled, seriously-ill or older loved one in the UK save the state £132 billion a year – close to the cost of a second NHS.

“[There has been] a staggering increase in the value of carers’ support since 2001, almost doubling from £68 billion to £132 billion. Researchers attribute this rise to a dramatic increase in the number of hours people are caring for, combined with an increase in the cost of replacement care.

“Carers UK’s Chief Executive Heléna Herklots has warned: ‘If even a small percentage of people were unable to continue caring, the economic impact would be catastrophic. Worryingly, we are edging towards this possibility, as the pressure on families to provide more care with less support is intensifying’.”

£132 billion a year is the cost of a second National Health Service.

The DWP crackdown on carers is intended to make people unable to continue caring.

It is intended to cause a catastrophic economic impact.

So we need to ask:

What are these Tories playing it, trying to undermine the UK’s economy for the sake of a few farthings?

Source: Unpaid carers save the UK £132 billion a year – the cost of a second NHS – Carers UK

CJD sufferer to be homeless – Tories will call this their greatest achievement (Part One of Three)

The latest atrocity to be inflicted on the innocent by the Conservative government became the opening act of a three-part farce on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show on Sunday (November 18), demonstrating everything that is wrong with our government and its complicit media.

The story, broken by The Sunday Times, concerns 19-year-old Emily Lydon, who was born brain-damaged after her mother contracted the human form of mad cow disease (BSE), but now faces losing her home because of benefit cuts linked to the switch to Universal Credit.

Her mother died when she was seven months old and since then she has been raised by her grandmother, 68-year-old Jean Godfrey. But last month the Department for Work and Pensions told Ms Godfrey their joint income was to be slashed from the £720 a week needed to pay for Emily’s 24-hour care and transport to £342. She now faces having to sell their bungalow in East Markham in Nottinghamshire.

Ms Godfrey pointed out that it was a failure of a former Conservative government that allowed BSE into the food chain – by allowing sick cows to be slaughtered, minced and fed back to other cattle as “cannibal cow-feeds”, spreading BSE to herds across the UK and into human beings who ate beef.

Emily’s mother, Sally Evans, was unknowingly developing variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD) before becoming pregnant. It attacked her brain and that of Emily, and she died in May 2000, aged 24.

Emily cannot speak or eat. She is fed with a syringe, is doubly incontinent and cannot walk – but DWP staff made her attend a work capability assessment at a job centre in Retford, then sent staff to review her case at her day centre.

They awarded her £58 a week in Universal Credit – and cut other benefits totalling £520 a week.

The review left them with £342 a week — less than half what they had been getting — and they were also left with extra mortgage and transport costs.

After The Sunday Times spoke to the DWP, a civil servant contacted Ms Godfrey and offered an extra £150 a week – but she said it still wasn’t enough to prevent her from having to sell the house.

You can read the full story in the newspaper. For some reason it isn’t behind a paywall (or wasn’t when I read it).

Reaction to the story has been universally negative:

It even attracted sympathy from Tory MP Anna Soubry, who tweeted: “No ifs no buts no excuses this is a disgrace & NOT what I voted for when supporting much needed benefit reforms.”

Unfortunately for Ms Soubry, and as Frances Ryan points out below, it was exactly what she voted to support. Dr Ryan, whose work in The Guardian has exposed the facts about Tory cuts to sickness and disability benefits, was right to point out that Tory rhetoric about protecting the “real disabled” was nothing other than a filthy lie.

Jonathan Portes offered up a more plausible reason for Ms Soubry’s outburst:

We shall see that it would have been better if Kwasi Kwarteng had adopted a similar attitude…

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Report warns of health and earnings risk to unpaid family carers


It’s about time the spotlight swung round to illuminate the plight of unpaid family carers.

I’m one, and I can confirm that life for carers like me is a never-ending, thankless struggle to make ends meet, combat government attempts to terminate my partner’s sickness and disability benefits (and my own Carer’s Allowance), cope with my partner’s mood swings that can make me feel entirely unappreciated, and avoid knock-on effects on my physical and mental health as well.

I am fortunate enough to be able to earn a little extra cash by writing This Site (although it has attracted enmity from certain vested interests who are determined to deprive me of this valuable income stream by disparaging my articles and my character – click on the link to my JustGiving site for further information on that).

Others have to rely on government funding that is dwindling in value every year.

It is an agonising struggle to avoid being crushed between the rock of my partner’s needs and the hard place of increasing financial pressures.

The report mentioned below makes recommendations – but these relate only to carers who are also employees.

Much more help is required.

Nearly eight million family carers in the UK are “propping up the care system” by providing unpaid care for relatives and other loved-ones, whilst also paying a significant personal and financial price for the care they provide, according to a new report from the Social Market Foundation (SMF) think tank.

Research has calculated that around 7.6 million adults are giving up their time to provide unpaid care for relatives, up 1 million since 2005 and equal to almost 15% of adults living in the UK.

In [a] report published on Monday, the SMF says the proportion of family carers providing 20 or more hours of unpaid care each week has increased from 24% in 2005 to reach 28% in 2015, with family carers providing an average 19.5 hours of unpaid care each week.

In total, family carers are sacrificing 149 million hours to care for loved-ones every week, equal to 4 million paid care-givers working full-time hours.

However, this level of unselfishness can have a devastating impact on the carers’ health and work prospects, with family carers less likely to be in employment than non-carers and more likely to earn far less.

Source: Nearly 8 million unpaid carers are ‘propping up’ the broken care system

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Game of Thrones hero stands up for sleep-in carers

Kit Harington.

It’s always good to see a celebrity using their status to help others.

Case in point: Kit Harington, star of Game of Thrones, who wants to enlist your help to ensure that thousands of ‘sleep-in’ carers receive the back pay they are owed after the government revised its guidance.

Since 1999, care homes paid a flat rate ”on call” allowance to overnight care staff in residential homes and supported living residences, under advice that time spent asleep did not count as work time for the purposes of the National Minimum Wage.

But new guidance in October last year, after two employment tribunals, recognised that the previous guidance was wrong and the Minimum Wage should be paid for sleep time as well.

The government, as reported by This Site, has waived historic financial penalties owed by employers who have underpaid their workers for overnight sleep-in shifts before July 26 this year and will temporarily suspend HMRC enforcement activity concerning payment of sleep-in shifts by social care providers until October 2, and it seemed this was a bid to help employers avoid paying up.

But the Royal Mencap Society has said it still leaves the sector with a back pay bill of around £400 million – and says the government should pay. This makes perfect sense to This Writer, as it was government guidance that caused the error in the first place.

Mr Harington has a cousin with Down’s syndrome and autism and is an ambassador for Mencap. He warned that the bill will bankrupt many charities and bring instability to other providers of the “indispensable service”.

https://youtu.be/xuwxSqk5R4E

In a video created for the charity, he said: “Many of us will be unaware of a vital part of the learning disability sector that provides essential overnight care for the most vulnerable people in our society – 178,000 people with the most serious learning disabilities depend on it. They are called sleep-in carers and they do a fantastic job.

“Just having a carer stay overnight in their home makes a huge difference to someone with a serious learning disability.

“They are there to support and reassurance just in case there is an emergency, but more importantly they enable them to live a life rather than spending the rest of their lives in a hospital setting.

“Because of a government decision to change its guidance on sleep-in payments the learning disability sector is now faced with a back-pay bill of £400 million which is being enforced.

“This will bankrupt many charities and bring instability to many other providers of this indispensable service.

“This is a reality – the most vulnerable people in our society will be left without care. We need to act – now.

“Please support the Royal Mencap Society’s campaign by signing our petition in spreading awareness online using the hashtag #StopSleepInCrisis . Help us to continue to protect the people who need it most.”

The petition can be found at: www.mencap.org.uk/sleep-ins-petition


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Iain Duncan Smith suffers court defeat on benefits cap

Vindictive animal: Iain Duncan Smith.

This is a reprieve, not a victory, I fear.

Iain Duncan Smith is a vindictive animal and, where victimising the vulnerable is concerned, he takes any setback to heart.

We – and I include myself in this because I am a carer – can expect him to come back with another attempt to penalise people who help the sick and disabled.

And he’ll probably rig the timing so it happens when we’re least able to respond.

We must be vigilant.

Iain Duncan Smith suffered a major defeat today when the High Court ruled the benefits cap should not apply to unpaid carers.

The Court has ruled that family carers who receive Carer’s Allowance should be exempt from the benefit cap – which limits the amount of benefits a family can receive to £26,000 a year.

Under savage new welfare cuts, the cap is now set to reduce even further to £23,000 in London and £20,000 elsewhere.

Mr Justice Collins found that the decision not to exempt carers was “discrimination” and not lawful.

Source: Iain Duncan Smith suffers court defeat on benefits cap – Mirror Online#ICID=sharebar_twitter#ICID=sharebar_twitter

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Russell Howard tells it like it is about tax credits and tampons (STRONG LANGUAGE)

Russell's opinion of Philip Davies after the Shipley filibusterer talked out a proposed law to help carers park at hospitals.

Russell’s opinion of Philip Davies after the Shipley filibusterer talked out a proposed law to help carers park at hospitals.

This Blog has been waiting more than a week to put up this clip of Russell Howard taking the Tories to task over their plan to cut tax credits and their refusal to end the tampon tax.

Here it is, but be warned – the language is spicy!

Russell is originally from Bristol, just like This Writer. He has been dishing it out to our dish-faced prime muppet since his new serious began on BBC2 a few weeks ago. It airs at 10pm every Thursday – last time round he gave Philip Davies a trouncing for talking out the Bill to end hospital parking charges for carers.

As a carer myself, I could not agree with Russell more.

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Discrimination against the disabled now includes their family members

[Image: Slidesharecdn.com]

[Image: Slidesharecdn.com]

A healthy man was sacked from his job because he had caring responsibilities for a daughter with cystic fibrosis, a tribunal heard.

The employee – a Mr Truman – had indicated to Bibby Distribution Ltd that he would have to spend more time caring for his daughter because his wife, the primary carer, was starting her own business.

He was dismissed from his job on the day he reached one year’s service with the company, on the grounds that “his heart was not in the business” and his primary customer was dissatisfied with his work. Significantly, Mr Truman would have become entitled to unpaid ordinary parental leave after notching up one year’s service. His dismissal on the first anniversary of his employment meant that he was denied this right.

An employment tribunal found there was no satisfactory explanation for the dismissal. The primary customer had not indicated any issues with Mr Truman’s performance – nor had the company’s management.

As a result, the tribunal found that the employer committed associative disability discrimination and a remedy hearing was arranged.

Associative discrimination is the act of discriminating against an individual because of an association with another person who has a protected characteristic under the Equality Act 2010. The individual who brings an employment tribunal claim would not have the protected characteristic him or herself. A protected characteristic is a trait that the law has determined should not a basis for employment decisions, the equality Act 2010 lists protected characteristics as age; disability; gender reassignment; marriage and civil partnerships; pregnancy and maternity; race; religion or belief; sex; or sexual orientation.

Carers need to be aware that employers may try to discriminate against them in this way.

Have they already suffered without knowing they are protected by the law?

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Labour pledges new support for family carers

Suffering: If fibromyalgia displayed visible signs, this is how a sufferer would look. Imagine how such a person would feel - physically and emotionally - if they were left alone this Christmas. Too much trouble for family; no fair-weather friends left; and a government that won't even investigate if they were found dead after the holidays.

Suffering: Mrs Mike has fibromyalgia which – if it were visible – would look like this (according to the experts).

You don’t get this kind of offer from the Conservatives, Lib Dems or other right-wingers, you know.

The Labour Party is announcing a new package of support to help England’s 5.4 million unpaid family carers.

Liz Kendall MP, Labour’s Shadow Minister for Care and Older People, today set out the party’s plans, if it is elected to government in May.

The package of measures includes:

  • A new duty on the NHS to identify family carers, so they can get the right help and support, and a new right for carers to ask for an annual health check – allowing problems to be identified earlier and prevent costs escalating.
  • A single point of contact with care services for families caring for people with the greatest needs, so they don’t have to battle different parts of the system.
  • Ensuring the funding currently identified for carers’ breaks is properly ring-fenced, to make sure all the money goes to family carers.
  • Consulting with employers, trade unions and carers organisations on how to improve flexible working for family carers, which could include measures such as a new period of ‘adjustment leave’ to help families cope with a short-term crisis.
  • Recognising the transport costs facing family carers, by including family carers in the groups who can be eligible for hospital car parking concessions.
  • Abolishing the bedroom tax – which hits 60,000 carers and penalises them for the extra facilities they need.

Ms Kendall said: “Family life is changing and more and more of us are looking after elderly or disabled relatives. This can often be a real struggle and many families feel pushed to breaking point.

“Too often carers have to battle all the different services to try and get the support they need. One in three family carers who are in paid work have to give up their job or reduce their hours because they can’t get the right help to care or flexible working hours.

“Most unpaid carers don’t have enough time to pay attention to their own health, and many don’t come forward for help or get any breaks. Often people don’t even see themselves as being a carer – they’re just a son, daughter, husband, wife or partner trying to look after the person they love.

“It’s not right that people who do so much get so little in return. We need to improve support for families, and Labour’s package of measures will make a real and practical difference to their lives.”

Experienced Vox Political readers will know that this writer is a carer. Looking at what Ms Kendall said – yes, I had to give up my job to become a full-time carer (not a hardship as the pay and conditions were miserable); no, I don’t get any breaks – the last holiday I had was in 2002; no, I get very little in return – especially from the current government.

There is support already available via the local carers’ service, and it is to be hoped that these proposals – if implemented under a future Labour government, will supplement that service.

Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike

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