There is such a thing as society, carers are building it…

Former Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher

It is carers who are building society

Mrs Thatcher proclaimed that “There’s no such thing as society” capturing the dominant belief in individualism of the time. Now, we believe that individuals can only prosper within a society but that our society might be broken.

I’m reading The Origins of Virtue, which describes how communities are built upon reciprocity. This does not mean that people only do things for others if they get something back in return, but that my act of giving will prompt you to show kindness to me at a later date. The willingness to give as well as take creates trust and builds relationships.

If people worry that this act of giving is absent from our society then they should look to carers. 6 million people give tremendous amounts of care to friends and relatives who may have a disability or serious illness.

These are people who give without taking, but what do we give in return..?

The answer is not much. Indeed, it is so little that carers who have spent years giving without any support find themselves without anything left to give, facing a mental or emotional breakdown.

We cannot talk about building society when we take from carers and give little in return.

To celebrate the act of giving, we should be holding up what carers do and showing what we give to support them (kind words and sentiments is not enough).

Our society needs to be stronger and we can achieve this by supporting those who are already developing such bonds by giving so much. Carers must receive support to enable them to continue giving or we risk losing the very people who can inspire us to give more.

Messrs Brown, Cameron and Clegg – it is carers who are building society.

Take care,


PS. Quick update, we’ve just published our ‘Crediting Carers: Building Society to Care’ report. Give it a read and let us know what you think to the proposals…


November 18, 2009 - Posted by | Social Care | , , , ,


  1. Bravo to this.

    I do not see how David Cameron can square his wish for “big society” with his wish to stop paying benefits to as many people as possible. How are carers to do the work of caring for the elderly, disabled, and mentally ill, if the government doesn’t want to pay for some kind of welfare for those not in traditional employment?

    Comment by BoB | November 20, 2009 | Reply

  2. We cannot allow the new Government – if it is Conservative -to even consider stopping benefits. Society WOULD collapse if carers lose what little financial recompense they get for their caring role. Its interesting that many of the comments I got around the Green Paper debate in Scotland were in relation to carers’ concerns about changing Attendance Allowance.

    Comment by Lynn Williams | November 24, 2009 | Reply

  3. Hi Gordon,

    In relation to the emails we have been exchanging about Credits for Carers, as you suggested, posting some of the points here for discussion.

    This may be a bit jumbled as I was reading your Credits for Carers paper alongside the link for the Gellideg Foundation Group.Hope okay but just doing these as points that came in to my head.

    1.Agree that carers need be at the heart of any future system.

    2.Your proposal relies on people accessing services,what about the rest?

    3.How do you categorise levels of care? Would that be reliant on eligibility criteria again?

    4.You said only those carers that were providing care to a person in receipt of a service would qualify for this new proposal but as LA budgets tighten it is mostly only those with ‘critical’ needs that get care packages.Yet many families who provide care for those in substantial/moderate bands still at times have unsustainable roles.

    5.Seperating one group of carers from the rest would be difficult to monitor?

    6.Who ‘measures’ the amount of care for a credit? If through using the RAS system where is the guarantee that this would be provided?

    7.What actually constitutes ‘care’? The amount of hours care provided or how intense a role is?

    8.How many weeks/months of credits would need be accrued that would enable a carer to be able to ‘afford’ to buy in a service. Considering the rates charged per hour for sitting services etc ,it would possibly take many weeks to gather enough credits for even a few hours respite.

    9.What about families who provide extensive care but do not want involvement of soc services? Under Carer credits system would they lose out?

    10.How hard would this be to administer? Reading GFG they used 1 hour = 1 time credit.How would this be monitored within a family setting?

    11.Does your proposal mean that from the assessment process that a carer would receive a ‘set’ amount of credit per week until a reassessment undertaken?

    12.You say credits to be used by the carer to buy in services,yet most carers need extra finances to pay bills, maintain a home.

    13.The paper says an ‘incentive’ system would be created and yet for most carers there is no greater incentive than the Love they have for the person they care for.

    Conclusion and remember this only my own view point, other carers may disagree with me…..even after the emails we have exchanged I don’t see how this system could be implemented and work. Each time I read the paper the more I disagree with the suggestions.It smacks too much of charity, the dreaded ‘unsung heroes’. Pat them on the head for doing this service and then give them a ‘credit’.

    For me it is a non starter. By all means try convince me,I truly hope you succeed but I doubt you will.The paper does not touch on the major problems for carers.

    Comment by Rosemary | November 25, 2009 | Reply

    • Hi Rosemary,

      Thanks for these questions and comments which I do think get to the heart of the proposals; I just hope my answers make sense! I’ve numbered my answers to match the question number:

      2.Local authorities and PCTs currently receive money to support carers including those not caring for somebody supported by the social care system. We recommend that this funding remains and that both should be providing services or direct support to carers in their area. We are aware that our proposal does not create a system whereby all carers would receive support, but we do think it is a way to massively increase the numbers that do – from 150,000 to over one million. From the very basic presumption of more support for more carers being a good thing, our proposals achieve this so we think it should be part of the mix of support available to carers.

      3. The level of credits given are in direct relation to the level of deduction from the Resource Allocation Score due to the amount of care provided by the carer as agreed by the individual, carer and social worker. An assessment of the carer would not be needed, so no eligibility criteria, although the carer would obviously retain the right to an assessment. The paragraphs on page 4 of the report attempt to explain how the level of credits are worked out.

      4. I think my answer to this is similar to my answer to your second question. We are aware that this system would not provide support to every carer and therefore local authorities and PCTs need to provide support directly or through services to carers. Our Putting People First without putting carers second report recommended more focus on people with lower needs to prevent them from becoming ‘critical’ and this is still the case.We also wrote this report in the context of the Green Paper which proposes that everybody with social care needs would receive some support which would bring many more people into the social care system, and thus would bring many more carers into our proposed system.

      5. We think that this system would make it easier to monitor what support carers are receiving because the level of credits given is easily recorded. Currently it is very difficult to monitor how much support carers get. That some carers would be receiving credits whilst others would not is no different to some carers receiving Carer’s Allowance whilst others do not qualify.

      6 & 7.
      I think my answer to your second question partly answers these questions. It is a combination of both that is taken into consideration when calculating the RAS score, and from that the credit level is calculated from the deduction from the score when considering what the carer will be doing. It would be a national system as described in the report where carers automatically earn credits depending on the level of care provided that social services are not providing instead.

      8. The total value of credits earned would vary amongst carers depending on the amount of caring provided. In the report, I gave an example of where a carer would be receiving credits totalling £2600 p/a. We are aware that some carers would not receive as much as this and that some carers would hope to receive more than even £2600 p/a. Our starting point is that too many carers currently get nothing, and that through this system many more carers would be getting much more than at present, which we think would be a good thing.

      9. I can understand why there will be some families who do not want to receive a service through social services, which is the premise behind giving people personal budgets. I may be wrong, but I do not think that there would be a lot of people who would refuse a personal budget funded by social services to purchase services and instead purchase the same service from their own pocket. As above, this system would only cover carers who are supporting somebody receiving a budget or support from social services, but this report was written in the context of the Green Paper where it is proposed that many more people will receive support through the social care system. Even in the basic Partnership model, they advise that everybody should get some support.

      10. We think it would be very easy to administer. The level of credit is agreed when the Resource Allocation Score is agreed and continues until a review. Where there is more than one carer, it would be need to be agreed during the RAS process how the credits should be divided amongst the carers. I agree that there may be cases where this will not be straightforward.

      11. Yes

      12. These proposals are really a starting point – a concept at the moment. If we get to the stage where there is serious consideration for these proposals to be implemented, exactly what the credits would be used for would have to be considered. I would imagine that they should have the same criteria as personal budgets would have, which are generally meant to be as unrestrictive as possible – nothing illegal. This would mean that carers could use the credits to pay for food, heating etc.

      13. I was surprised to see that I had used this word in the report – I had to go back and check when I saw your question. I think you’re right, this is not the right word to convey what we are trying to do with this report. I was at a meeting with carers a couple of weeks ago talking about this report and a carer said that they cannot continue on love alone; they need support to continue. That is what we are trying to encourage.

      Rosemary, I think the points that you have made here and in e-mails have been very insightful and has helped me understand how I could have made the report more clear in sections. I do disagree with you about being unable to see who it could be implemented because I think there is quite a lot of detail in the report explaining the process. The process is certainly possible; it just needs the will to do it. I also disagree that it doesn’t touch on the major problems for carers. This system would give more support to nearly a million more carers that would enable them to purchase services or pay bills. I may be wrong, but I don’t think there is anything else currently being considered that would achieve this..

      Thanks Rosemary

      Comment by Gordon | November 30, 2009 | Reply

      • Hi Gordon,

        Following on from previously, I will continue to use no’s relating to your points,just hope makes sense.

        2.The numbers you quoted would mean a massive increase of those that would possibly ‘benefit’ from the scheme you are suggesting. How many though would prefer to have a financial improvement on a weekly basis instead of ‘banking credits’.To have full control over how they both receive/spend money.I mean money direct to carers not likes of IB’s/DPs etc.

        3. My concern is still the fact that it only applies to those accessing care services.It just feels that by giving a ‘credit’ ,the govt would be avoiding their responsibilities to carers as a whole.Its akin to making being a carer a ‘good cause’ and a credit would be a ‘reward’ for good behaviour. I know that it is definitely not your intention. I do understand where you are coming from, but that’s the way it comes across to me.

        8. You quote a figure of £2600 per annum as an example.This to be used to purchase services. Why not find a way to ensure carers received a monetary value direct,to spend as they wish,especially as many need it towards household bills etc.

        9. Don’t worry about your paper not convincing me. I listened to Behan at the Big care debate at Newcastle and he was unable to ‘sell’ any of the proposals in the Green Paper to me.Maybe it is me being naïve, head in the sand so to speak but my gut feeling and the little experience I have of the system, is telling me that Credits for carers would be a bad move.

        12.You said….. “”””This would mean that carers could use the credits to pay for food, heating etc. “””

        Once again, and this just a personal opinion but, the above horrifies me.Would you do say 10 hours of your working week without getting paid but instead ‘bank credits’, to then use at a later date .However, only on items someone else has determined as permissible?

        Gordon, it is difficult using just the typed word as a form of communication,misunderstandings are rife at times, but as long as you realise I am only putting across one opinion we can carry on you trying to convince me. However, you may have a problem doing that. With each reply you have given so far,they only strengthen my belief that a system like this is not right.It is the whole concept of a ‘Credit for carers’ that I have a problem with.My gut feeling still says No, and dare I say it, but if something like this had been suggested to me when caring for my mam, I would have been offended.

        Apart from the discussions online, both here and PRTC message board, have you had any feedback,any positive comments from other carers.A scheme like this would have no bearing on me so if another carer can come along and tell me how it would work to their advantage I am all ears.

        You said…“””but I don’t think there is anything else currently being considered that would achieve this..”””

        You would have to ask your counterparts from other groups about that one.

        Whether your idea is good/bad, I take my hat off to you for bringing it out in the open.It is easy for me to be negative about something, without offering you an alternative.

        Comment by Rosemary | December 1, 2009

  4. This paper talks of 35 hours or 50 hours per week, but we all know that most carers are 24/7/365 on duty. Therefore any “credits for amount of service reduction” would be a big fat zero on a lot of cases.

    No, just pay us the money, we, as full time experienced carers are well aware of what services/goods/etc we need to buy in and its us that should be in charge of assessments, not part time inexperienced staff paid inflated wages by the local authority (for which we have the dubious pleasure of paying council tax for).

    The LAs community services and the NHS care services in many places simply do not know who the various carers are in their area. Recent FOI requests have highlighted this when asking what specifically targeted carers were made grants, most replied that they did not keep a database of carers.

    This scheme,if implemented (and I can’t see as it could be without massive investment) duplicates the assessments already carried out for the benefits AA and DLA and would therefore be like reinventing the wheel.

    I can’t see why we would need to jump through yet more hoops to get what is a derisory amount, ie around £9 if you are deemed to provide 35 hours a week, which is actually only the minimum to claim CA, most carers like I say are actually 24/7 on call.

    Altogether its a cumbersome, unwieldy, expensive and inefficient way to get money to carers.

    Just pay a proper amount to carers based on how many hours they do. £10 an hour would start negotiations!

    Comment by ians1 | November 26, 2009 | Reply

    • Hi Ian,

      A lot of my answers to Rosemary will answer some of the points you make i.e. there would be no duplication of assessments or application forms so carers would not have to go through a long process and why I think it is a very simple process for authorities and carers. This system would also tackle one of the points you made about a lack of knowledge of carers and what support is available or being given to them.

      It would require investment but we think at a level can be afforded, even with future government restrictions on spending. If this system would be adopted, then the value of a credit would have to be determined and it sounds as though you could be man to do the bargaining.

      Thanks Ian

      Comment by Gordon | November 30, 2009 | Reply

  5. “It would require investment”

    But where would the money come from Gordon? Its plain that the government thinks any money saved by chopping Attendance Allowance goes straight back to the Exchequer, not to Carers.


    Comment by ians1 | November 30, 2009 | Reply

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