Too rich to care?

My last blog was about how the value of £10 is different for different people depending on what it enables them to do with it. Then comes research on America and Europe which shows that the richer you are the less likely you are to provide care.

The Kiev Economics Institute found that for every 10% rise in salary women will spend 36% less time providing care and men will reduce their input by 18%. This actually corresponds with research in the UK which indicated a link between earning and whether you give up work to care or not.

Basically, these projects suggest that if you can afford to pay for care then you are more likely to do so, and if you cannot then you are more likely to give up work to do it yourself. Money enables choice. So, should a priority for Government be enabling carers of all incomes to have choices?

Technically, social services should provide care to meet all needs of the disabled or seriously ill person, and should only reduce what they provide if the carer is willing and able to provide certain levels of care. However, the reality is that it is assumed that carers will provide care and social services will only top up on the care that the carer cannot provide.

One woman I know has a husband who has a serious condition. Social services told her that it would cost them over £100,000 p/a to provide care to meet his needs, and that they couldn’t afford this. And despite her being a successful professional, she could not afford to buy enough private care. The solution was that she gave up her job and the council provided support worth about £7000 p/a.

I believe the Dilnot Commission’s recommendations (see previous blog) would make purchasing care more affordable and therefore give more people greater choice about how much care they provide and how much care they purchase. At the moment, being able to choose is too dependent on how much money you have.

This also has ramifications for Government economic policy, which I’ll cover in my next blog.

Take care



August 26, 2011 Posted by | Benefits, breaks for carers, Equality Bill, Social Care | , , , , , , | 6 Comments

What can a penny do?

Would you rather have £10 given to you today or a week’s time? Most would say today because we generally value things we currently have more than things we may get in the future. We want it now.

Sometimes the value can change quite dramatically if it’s a Scottish £10 note with English shopkeepers often refusing to take it, thinking it is worth nothing. And yet, if you offered that £10 to a homeless person, they would value it much more than even I (a thrifty Scot) would value that £10.

The value of £10 can change dramatically depending on what it enables the ocoinswner to do with it.

This is most visible when we receive letters from carers we’ve supported who have told us what it has enabled them to do. Small amounts of money can have a big impact on their lives with words and phrases like “heartfelt thanks”, “simply wonderful” and “no longer at my wits end” being used.

I look at the amounts involved and know that receiving such support would make much less of a difference to me. It’s a horrible process having to decide which carers you can support and which you cannot but unfortunately we, like everybody else, have limited funds. You have to judge where the money will have the greatest value.

The debate has started about cutting taxes to put more money into people’s pockets to increase spending to hopefully grow the economy. But the value of cutting taxes or a growing economy is dependent on who benefits from it and what does it enable them to do.

The balance has to be found between enabling people to build wealth to invest and spend, and enabling people to have a basic standard of living. My grandfather (a Conservative) used to describe a man he knew who would begrudge an extra penny on income tax. “A penny?! It’s only a penny. What difference would it make to you?” he would ask. The reply would be “It’s my penny, and I want to keep it”.

We must realise that a penny is not important in itself, but what it enables a person to do is. For carers, it can mean having a washing machine that works (desperately needed if caring for somebody incontinent), a ramp into the house, a first break in years or seeing a counsellor because the person you care for is dying. That seems pretty important to me.


August 17, 2011 Posted by | Benefits, Budget, Scotland | , , , | 1 Comment