Did they really say that?

Typically at this time of year, not much is happening policy-wise with Parliament in recess. This seems even more the case this year as everyone seems to have vacated London for the duration.

With this time to take stock I’ve been thinking about the top things politicians have said to me in the last two years whilst I’ve worked here which have left me aghast.  We think we’ve got the message across, and then I’m left with my mouth hanging open in a meeting  thinking – “Did they really say that?”

Here are my top five jaw droppers .  You can rest assured, all of these got suitably robust responses, if appropriately polite for the circumstances.

1.       Carers have a duty to look after their relatives. If they don’t want to do it, that’s just tough.

I’m afraid I had to take issue. Whilst many carers may well feel it’s their duty,  actually we  are free individuals who should be able to make our own choices. No-one is saying the state should interfere in families’ business, but it should provide support to help families achieve the best outcomes for all. Although sadly many people do feel trapped in a caring role, this isn’t how it should be.

2.       Young carers, aren’t they just children who do some chores?

This particular meeting  started off inauspiciously with this perplexing statement, and ended up with us conducting  a hasty carer awareness  session, which resulted in the MP actually understanding something about the issue and speaking positively about young carers later in the House of Commons. So despite the difficult start, a real result! Nice to know that some days we make a difference.

3.       People with disabilities don’t need DLA unless they’re the most severely disabled  people.

Somehow there’s an idea amongst some MPs that we should spend all the benefits money on the people with the most severe levels of need. The thing is, that living with a  disability  – pretty much any disability – costs more.  If we don’t spend a bit of money on people with moderate levels of need, they get worse and worse , and their lives get more and more miserable until they end up being the people in most need.  We all know about the need for prevention  and that this saves money in the long run- why can’t they see it?

4.       Carers don’t actually live on Carers Allowance.

If I had a sticky bun for every time someone in a decision making role told me that no-one actually lives on Carers Allowance, like it’s just a bit of pin money, then I could open a bakers shop. So again and again we say – Carers Allowance may not be a king’s ransom but it’s desperately needed income which helps  families survive.  We need Carers Allowance to work better for carers and to actually be a decent amount of money. That’s a key thing we need to get the Government to sort out, once and for all.

5.       We don’t actually need to put money into supporting carers – they’d do it anyway.

This is perhaps the saddest things I hear – and it’s hard because I know from the people I meet that thousands of carers do go on, year after year, supporting people even though their own health deteriorates to the point of collapse. The thought that it’s not worth putting a bit of money in to help people care for longer, with a bit of quality  of life for themselves, just makes my blood boil.

So, those are my jaw droppers – what are yours?  Share the worst ones!


August 16, 2012 - Posted by | Carer's Allowance, Carers Strategy, Law, Party Conferences, Social Care, Young carers | , ,


  1. Best one I have heard – “How hard can it be to be a carer – I mean, I did my grandad’s shopping one a week for years and it didn’t take that much effort!” Yes because that is totally the same thing as spending 24 hours a day, 7 days a week emotionally supporting a manic depressive!

    Comment by Claire Thwaite | August 16, 2012 | Reply

  2. It has always come across to me how blinkered people can be towards carers.As a chosen profession I have had insight into the daily lives of families and individuals having to care. It is heartbreaking to see the struggles, insprirational to see the strength and a privilege to be a part of a world which many would not choose to see. Carers are the silent angels of the world.

    Comment by fluffywings | August 16, 2012 | Reply

  3. Well at least you don’t have to work!!!! That little pearl of non-wisdom always makes me want to challenge such ill-informed views!
    Carers work harder than most salaried people and there’s little if any in the way of perks or holidays – anybody even remember what they are?

    Comment by Marie66 | August 18, 2012 | Reply

  4. “We can’t help you, because you ONLY provide emotional support”

    No disrespect meant, all carers have different ‘challenges’, but there are times when I wish my cared for had a damaged body and a healthy mind, then people would see a problem and ‘maybe’ my support would be needed less than 24/7.

    The other great ‘common quote’ is:
    “Has your situation changed”
    This is normaly well intended, but if I’m having a rough day I can only think to want to answer:
    No, life is still as ******* as before, or things have changed, there even worse, or things have got better, but still *****

    Comment by BrainSalad | August 20, 2012 | Reply

  5. Thanks everyone for adding your stories so far – shocking how often people still get the wrong end of the stick, isn’t it. Just shows how much still needs to be done to get the message across.

    Comment by Moira | August 20, 2012 | Reply

  6. Moira, I don’t see your fifth point as sad. It’s ruddy annoying!! It shows they simply don’t understand the impact of caring on health, finances and myriad other issues.

    Comment by charles47 | August 27, 2012 | Reply

  7. I know I’m commenting 2 months late, but I’ve only just come across your blog, and I thought I’d share some things that people say to me a lot:

    1) “How can you be a carer you’re only [insert age here]?”
    2) “Big deal you wash a few dishes, get over it”
    3) “You’re Dad has issues, how in any way does that effect you?”

    It’s frustrating, people don’t understand how having a caring role can impact someones life, and how stressful it can be, it’s physically, emotionally and mentally draining, especially when you’re a young carer (I’ve only just turned 18 and the support I did have just vanished)

    Comment by Ben | October 2, 2012 | Reply

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