Big Care Debate = Big Government Confusion

By nature, I’m an optimistic kind of person that likes to believe the best in people. Sometimes, it works out for the best, but you can also be left shaking your head in disbelief. Which is what I’m doing regarding disability benefits and the Green Paper. To the many carers who have commented on this, I apologise.

The links below show that the Secretary of State and a Minister in the Lords appeared to be avoiding ruling out rolling a number of benefits into social care budgets. This is despite Phil Hope MP and senior civil servants telling people (including me) directly that it was only Attendance Allowance that was being considered.

Now, they may only be seriously considering AA, but mixed messages on such a sensitive subject are alarming. They give the impression of a power struggle between government departments. They are a huge distraction from what should be a once in a generation chance to transform social care.

Arguably, the government should have separated out discussion about benefits from the Green Paper, to avoid the rest of the proposals (some of which we think are really good) getting lost. But now that benefits are included, ministers should be crystal clear about the scope of the discussion they want to have. The Green Paper seems to say it’s just AA being considered. If they are really thinking about rolling DLA and even Carers Allowance into social services budgets as well, we need to know. They can rest assured that carers will not be shy about giving their opinions on that.

Take care,


PS. You can now read Phil Hope’s responses to carers from our online Q&A


October 16, 2009 - Posted by | Social Care | , , , ,


  1. They’re using the argument that they don’t want to rule anything out in case someone comes up with something they haven’t thought of. Rubbish. They are already thinking the unthinkable, but dare not speak it this side of the election.

    Bear in mind that there has been a lot of “scrounger” talk in the press lately, with only the Daily Mirror giving a truly alternative view where carers are concerned.

    It’s no good asking the charities if any benefits are safe, we all have to ask our MPs and prospective candidates. And vote accordingly.

    Comment by charles47 | October 17, 2009 | Reply

  2. To remove AA or DLA benefits from individuals to choose how they meet their own care needs is likely to lead to no funding for those who have savings. People who have savings have often lived a more frugal existence all their working life in order to save for their ‘old age’

    It already happens now in that people who ‘lived for the moment’ e.g enjoying holidays, new cars and the latest TV etc are living cheek by jowl in care homes (with their placement funded by the Local Authority) yet are sitting next to someone who is paying from their savings for exactly the same level of care.

    Why should the hard working, saving, careful and prudent people subsidise the feckless thoughtless selfish individuals who spend spend spend??! People who often milk the system on benefits and see no shame in taking all they can get from the rest of us tax payers.

    I speak from BITTER experience, after going without holidays, treats, cigarettes, alcohol etc etc – saving all my working life towards ‘our retirement years’. But now that I’m retired as well as acting as a carer for sick spouse we are having to pay out for help around the house as well as personal health care that the state is unable to provide.

    My working life was involved in Social Services Care system. I am well aware how many of the people who receive Local Authority assistance are feckless, thoughtless, selfish people. They may be uneducated but with an inbuilt fox like cunning they have an ability to ensure all their needs are met – rare are the well deserving people fallen on hard times.

    Tax payers who save are subsidising an underclass who choose not to work or save. Why should we worry about their care needs in their old age??!

    Comment by Penny Southwell | October 19, 2009 | Reply

    • That’s a very sweeping statement, Ms Southwell, that doesn’t speak well for social care workers, I’m afraid.

      In my current employment, also in the social care “industry”, I have come across many carers who, due to their caring responsibilities, have had their incomes reduced drastically to the point where any savings they may have had were wiped out. Feckless?

      My own situation is such that I will be unable to afford to retire before the age of 70, due entirely to the loss of earnings from having to leave the workplace part time for 5 years and full time for another five. As I was caring for more than one person it was impossible to hold down a job at the same time. My savings were wiped out in very short order and although I am now back in employment the damage is done, as noted above.


      I would hope that some recognition of the sacrifices involved for many carers would show that we live in a more enlightened age than your post suggests.

      Comment by charles47 | October 19, 2009 | Reply

  3. The simple fact remains that as important as these issues are, as vital it is that they get addressed, the Green paper actually raises far too many questions than the govt can answer.Its like putting a jigsaw together with most of the pieces missing.There are too many gaps.

    No matter which option the govt decide on, unless they
    support family carers both financially and practically,all they are doing is storing up even more trouble for the future.Family carers are the foundation we need build on now, and will be even more so in the future.

    Plus there is a much wider picture out there.We cannot look at the Green paper for Social care without also taking in to consideration the Welfare Reform Bill.

    Comment by Rosemary | October 20, 2009 | Reply

    • Rosemary said: “We cannot look at the Green Paper for Social Care without also taking into consideration the Welfare Bill”

      I agree.

      And in my opnion we also have to take into account the Government’s Personalisation Agenda ie the introduction of the market into social care.

      It’s definitely not just AA and DLA that the govt are considering ‘absorbing’ into the new individual budgets.
      Ever wondered why the govt did nothing to improve carer benefits in the years of ‘boom’. What do you think ‘we will review carer benefits in the conext of wider welfare reform’ means? I would say that the proposal to move carers to JSA in the welfare green paper was a pretty strong indication of where govt thinking lies on this.

      In my opinion we are looking at the future means testing of all benefits..except of course child benefit..saved by political expediency rather than for ideological reasons.

      The Govt are hoping to do for ‘caring’ what they have done for motherhood. Working age carers will be provided with enough respite to get other paid jobs and the private sector will mop up the profits of providing the replacement care needed. Of course informal carers will still be needed..when carers are not working they will still be caring ie they will be freed to do two jobs rather than one.

      Being optimistic is one thing but you cant trust politicians on the issue of caring..our politics are very macho in this country. Politicians dont understand what care is,that the best care is care provided by someone who loves you isnt in the nature of politicians to understand that, particulary market obsessed politicians.!

      Comment by Angelica | October 20, 2009 | Reply

  4. I think the problem is that the questions are too difficult for politicians who will always make decisions based on their ability to be re-elected. Because social care has been ignored, as far as funding is concerned, for years because it has not been politically fashionable, the accumulated problems have become too large to solve by politicians who will not take the hard choices of recognising that we are not the world power they wish we were, and that we cannot afford to ignore tax fraud (which is far higher than benefit fraud at over £40bn according to government figures a couple of years ago). And let’s not get started on the banks!

    Comment by charles47 | October 20, 2009 | Reply

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