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Social care reform must value carers contribution

If you hear me saying “I’m going green” you may think I have fallen in line with my girlfriend’s environmental leanings. However, until the Government’s consultation ends on 13th November, it means that I’m off to a meeting about the Green Paper on reforming social care. Today was my first “going green” day.

Minister for Care Services, Phil Hope and Director General of Social Care, David Behan led a meeting to discuss the various proposals in the Green Paper. After a brief summary of the Green Paper they asked for questions. I am usually polite and don’t make a Usain Bolt like dash for the microphone but in this instance it was within arms reach so how could I not?

On page 114 of the Green Paper, it is suggested that in a Comprehensive Model, where everybody aged 65+ has to make a financial contribution, couples could be asked to pay less. The Green Paper gives two reasons for this:

• The costs to a couple having to use savings to pay two contributions could be very high
• Couples often provide mutual care and support, therefore saving the social care system money

I am not convinced by the first reason given that it is increasingly common for both adults to be working, but I do see the logic of the second. It is fair that we value in-kind contributions that carers give to the system by reducing the financial contribution we ask them to pay.

My question was whether they would be prepared to extend the proposal to all carers as there are lots of carers who are not caring for a partner but should be equally valued. It would appear strange if only carers with a romantic interest would qualify, although it might hasten the return of Blind Date to help match people up.

Their answer was that if this was a case that the carers’ movement wanted to make, then we should make it and the Department of Health would listen. There are various issues within the Green Paper that will affect us all but this is one of the only issues that is specific to carers and it demands our attention.

Carers provide the majority of care and support, and without them the social care system would collapse. These in-kind contributions are as important to the future sustainability of social care as any model of raising extra funding for it is. And it should be treated as such. What carers give should be valued by the State giving something back in return. It is fair, it is right and we should make sure that the Government, Parliament, councillors and even the man down the road know this.

However, we cannot win the argument alone. For carers to pay less, others will have to pay more and it is their support that we need. We need them to accept that this is a fair “trade-off” (a new Dept of Health buzzword going by today) and support our campaign on this. We have a briefing on this issue and will be running a poll on it later this month. Please take part in it and encourage others to do so. If we’re going green, then it’s time to move.

Take care, and take action

Gordon

PS. Despite my clarion call to support Queens Park (aka The Spiders) last week, they unfortunately fell to a 1-0 defeat to Berwick Rangers at the weekend. 519 hardy fans paid money to watch it.

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September 3, 2009 - Posted by | Care and Support Green Paper | , ,

18 Comments »

  1. Hi Gordon,

    No matter what this govt say,they have in fact set up a consultation exercise wherein they left out one of the main proposals that was mentioned prior to the release of the Green Paper, that of general taxation.Who knows if this would have received much support but we will never know now.

    Another issue in the paper is that of the Disability Benefits.There are vague proposals put forward but with real danger underneath.

    You may be going ‘green’ but carers/elderly/ disabled both young and old, are going BLUE in the face from arguing with this Govt, previous ones and also those to come.The time for words is over, action is needed and it is needed NOW.

    I agree with your point made about partnerships between carer/caree.

    Comment by Rosemary | September 3, 2009 | Reply

    • Hi Rosemary

      Both issues were discussed at the meeting. On the issue of funding social care wholly from general taxation, David Behan and Phil Hope gave two reasons for why they do not think it should be considered:

      1. It would put a large burden on working age people, which as a group is decreasing in proportion to the retired population. I would read this as meaning that it would be mean an increase in taxes, likely income tax, which they judge working age people could neither afford. This seemed to be the most influential in their thinking.

      2. There is a greater spread of wealth amongst working age people and those retired than previously so it is fair that these people make contributions to the social care and support that they are likely to receive.

      However, they did advise that they are willing to receive alternative views and solutions how general taxation could fund social care fully. One thing that I think should be understood is that when the Government says we do not have enough money to fund everybody’s social care needs, they are actually saying that once we have gone through our list of priorities of how we will spend the £600bn that we do annually, there is not enough left to fund everybody’s social care. I imagine that many carers and people receiving care would like it to be a higher priority although it may be that other people who have maybe never experienced the need for or to give care have not considered the issue. It may be valuable for the relative importance of social care to be part of The Big Care Debate.

      Regarding disability benefits, they advised that only Attendance Allowance was being considered, not Disability Living Allowance, and that it was only a suggestion to find out what people’s views were and was not a definite plan. I will be blogging about this in more detail and do visit http://www.carers.org to see our briefings on these issues and take part in our online polls.

      Thanks Rosemary

      Comment by Gordon | September 7, 2009 | Reply

  2. Hi Gordon,
    I understand that shortly you will be visiting the political conferences of all the major parties.
    Will you be letting them know about our fears on welfare benefits and the cuts that are continually being made, which only makes things more and more difficult for the carer.
    Will you be able to speak at each conference? and if so can you please keep us informed of what happens.
    Good luck.
    Wendy

    Comment by Wendy Chill4us | September 7, 2009 | Reply

    • Hi Wendy,

      I am going to all three party conferences and hope to be meeting various Parliamentarians. Carer’s Allowance and benefits is always one of the most important issues discussed and it is clear that among the backbenchers there is agreement that carers should receive more. We will continue to argue this case to the Dept of Work and Pensions and hope to enlist support of other Parliamentarians in doing so.

      We will be giving two presentations at each conference. One is with Help the Hospices and the Motor Neurone Disease Association focusing on personal budget and how they can have positive and negative effects on carers and those receiving care. We’ve got Phil Hope MP (Lab), Stephen O’Brien MP (Cons) and Norman Lamb MP (Lib Dems) attending that presentation at each conference. The other presentation is being jointly held with the College of Occupational Therapists (OTs) and will look at the role of carers and OTs in helping people live healthier longer and enjoy more independence.

      I will definitely be blogging throughout the conferences so will try to keep you up to date.
      Take Care Wendy
      Gordon

      Comment by Gordon | September 9, 2009 | Reply

  3. Interesting ….. since when have carers & carees alike ” voted ” on the subject of funding social care out of general taxation ?

    Before anyone dismisses this out of hand , I would suggest they put it to the people they purport to represent … and not rubber stamp whatever proposal comes out of the government.

    Social care is society’s problem , not any one individual’s , and , as such , should be funded by society … and not let individuals having to fight for whatever themselves.

    In addition , proposals so far are remarkably silent on the vex question of carers …. why ?

    Comment by Paul | September 7, 2009 | Reply

  4. hi gordon
    why shouldnt it come out of taxation? the goevernment gave the banks billions we carers save this country nearly £80 billion a year yet we are treated as a none entity and classed as scroungers if the government take AA and dla away from carees and carers what are they going to get to live on? i dont get AA but my wife gets DLA for personal care and for getting around if DLA gets taken away then she cant get to hospital appsor doctors etc etc so as far as im concerned its a none starter but of course the government have already made up their minds about this its only a PR excercise so it doesnt matter what anyone says in their minds its already done and dusted but we shall keep fighting it. and you notice its always the vulnarable that gets hit because we are a minority
    doug

    Comment by douglas spooner | September 7, 2009 | Reply

  5. oh yes forgot im a 24/7 carer too

    Comment by douglas spooner | September 7, 2009 | Reply

  6. Charities like PRTC should be whole heartedly behind the campaign to STOP the abolition of Carers Allowance, Attendance Allowance and Disability Living Allowance. I am baffled as to why they are sitting on the fence about this. PRTC are not even going to BEGIN the debate about it until 10th October! The time to make MPs aware of this is NOW. Otherwise the result will be much like the ESA and the huge problems this is causing for Carers and their sick and disabled people they care for.
    Don’t let us “sleepwalk” into this like so many other issues have been just left to happen to us.
    The campaign to stop the abolition of our benefits needs bold action right now, not in a months time.

    Comment by ians1 | September 9, 2009 | Reply

    • Hi Ian,
      The Princess Royal Trust for Carers want our response to reflect what carers are telling us. When summarising the Green Paper we sought to present the issues without forcing our viewpoint immedately so as to give carers and others the chance to make up their own mind.

      As this discussion and others on our website have shown the debate has already started. We are running 4 surveys over the consultation period as there are many important issues and we did not want to deluge people with them all at once. The one related to this issue opens 10 Oct but we are already encouraging debate and are meeting with our 100+ Carers’ Centres in England at the moment to discuss these issues with them and to encourage them to hold local debates.

      Comment by Gordon | September 10, 2009 | Reply

      • Thanks for your reply Gordon.

        “The Princess Royal Trust for Carers want our response to reflect what carers are telling us”

        Over 21,770 signatures to a petition and over 780 negative responses (and very few positive ones) on the Dept of Health’s own website (2) as well as 1,042 on No10’s website (3) could give PRTC a pointer or two, maybe?

        Refs
        (1) http://www.benefitsandwork.co.uk/disability-living-allowance-(dla)/dla-aa-cuts
        (2)http://careandsupport.direct.gov.uk/greenpaper/execsum/#comments
        (3)http://petitions.number10.gov.uk/AttendanceA/

        ian

        Comment by ians1 | September 10, 2009

  7. Gordon

    By reading the boards of P R T C, if anyone there does, you and your charity should have a darn good idea of what carers wants are, there should be no need to be asking!

    You should know how much C A is needed by carers, and how many of them depend on this to live, and in some cases live in poverty with C A and other benefits.

    You should know the many problems carers have had with local services and should not now need to be asking do carers want local services to be responsible for benefits in any way shape or form.

    Comment by webglynne | September 14, 2009 | Reply

    • Hi,

      We’re trying to encourage carers supported by the network of Carers’ Centres and Crossroads Care schemes (over 250,00 in England) to take part in the debate and surveys most of whom do not use The Trust’s discussion boards. So it’s an attempt to hear from as many carers as possible.

      Thanks
      Gordon

      Comment by Gordon | September 16, 2009 | Reply

  8. Gordon

    As you are “Parliamentary Officer” why not ask the TUC to lean on the Gov and not start cutting benefits as part of their “policy of public sector cuts”? After all, we as Carers are the “workers of the world”, aren’t we?

    Ian.

    Comment by ians1 | September 15, 2009 | Reply

  9. something else has been bothering me i know i know its taken me long enough to mention it my brain works before and after the fact lol what has been bothering me is phil hope saying why do people think that dla will be used somebody some where must have mentioned it there is always a
    grain of truth his quote was we think we should consider some (elements of disability benefits)notice not benefit benefits and elements not element thats why people think other benefits are being included
    doug

    Comment by douglas spooner | September 21, 2009 | Reply

  10. Morning Doug,

    Now would someone as shy as myself take the michael out of your comments about your brain…:P…lol.

    This only my take on things ok,look forward to reading Gordons reply to you.

    If we link the Welfare Reform Bill and the Green Paper for social care we can see how already the govt are taking steps to streamline all benefits,not just the Disability ones.Noone can deny that reform is needed,it is,just not the direction the govt is taking.Mind you,Tories have said they will push reform harder and faster, so no light at the end of the tunnel is there.

    Already we have Income support and Incapacity benefits affected.Now the vague proposals for the disability ones.
    For me the threat is real,as it is for many others.You only have to see the outcry on various online sites to know others feel the same way too.Even the organisations are making their voice heard.Better we make a stand now rather than too late.

    My main concern along with all this is, how the govt have been extremely quiet about the proposal they had about carers moving to Job seekers allowance.Although they held off with it for now,there has been nothing concrete as yet as to their intentions.

    So as well as fighting to save the disability benefits, we still need know what their intention is as regards carers in receipt of CA.

    Smoke and mirrors Doug. Keep an eye out on what else is going on in the background. ( wink )

    Hope you and N are well,
    Rosemary
    x x

    Comment by Rosemary | September 21, 2009 | Reply

  11. morning rosemary
    you shy lol lol lol i know what you are saying its all smoke and mirrors and yes they are to quiet on this jsa thing but i still cant help thinking all this is done and dusted and they are too quiet about that too you notice to though the press never gets involved in this either i think its too politicly too hot for them or they are not interested you would think they would if all the charities are involved you’d think the press would have gotten a hold of it by now wouldn’t you think? yes i agree something should be done about benefits to make it easier to its just the sneaky way government have done it thats the problem
    but as i said ithink its already been agreed upon this just lip service now but what do i know they have lied to to us right left and centre about other things
    still no change on N bit tired myself hows you?
    dougxx

    Comment by douglas spooner | September 21, 2009 | Reply

    • All geordies are shy Doug :P..lol.

      My concern about this care debate and their options, is the fact that really, there is no option that jumps out at you and says YES, thats the direction we take.You end up picking something that is the lesser of the evils if that makes sense.You dont want it but neither do you want the other 2.

      In a way akin to the next election.If you are a NL supporter or used to be, you may not want to vote for them but deep down dont want to vote Tories etc and yet,you have no choice.You know you will end up with one of them regardless.

      Everything just now is top/down instead of bottom/up.Where is the vision of building on the strong foundation that carers are.As people live longer, as medicine breakthroughs mean people also survive longer, more and more will be placed upon family members and yet many will walk away.

      Comment by Rosemary | September 23, 2009 | Reply

  12. Hi all

    Its the old thing with civil servants, I know, I used to be one!

    Whenever you send out memos/circulars/….Green Papers… you always leave what might be a point of conjecture as a vague set of proposals, or even just a reference to something similar.

    Then, when nobody notices it, and later complains (in this case howls of “nobody told us DLA was going” ) you simply point to the oblique reference (padding it out with much detail that was not there originally) and say meekly “well nobody raised an objection, so we thought that represented wholehearted support, no?”

    …you also learned to duck at subsequent meetings as well!

    Anyone who watched Yes Minister and the subsequent Yes Prime Minister would have had a good grounding in the ways of these weasel word meisters!

    ian

    Comment by ians1 | September 21, 2009 | Reply


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