So today I am going to ask two questions, having made two points. I’m warning you in advance, I’m Ms Potatohead, and I have my angry eyes in.
Firstly, There is a lot of fuss currently being made about work capability assessments – and quite rightly. They seem to be often unjust and very poorly thought out and executed. For the most cynical reasons too.
However, I am shocked and horrified that nobody – and I mean literally NOBODY – seems to have recognised that there is one group of people in Britain who are automatically expected to be capable of hard, gruelling, relentless work , however ill they might be. Today I have talked to carers who suffer everything from mental health problems and inflammatory bowel disease to end-stage renal failure. And all are still working 24/7 unquestioned – and with no mechanism for questioning.
Full-time carers are not asked to undergo work capability assessments. Because? a) they don’t get paid anything and b) what on EARTH would happen if they were accidentally signed off as unfit to work?
So my first question is aimed at campaigners for social justice, at carers organisations, and all of you with petitions and agendas who see yourselves as including us carers in your fight for the rights of clearly more important others. (Sorry, do I sound bitter, here?)
Why have you not noticed that we fulltime carers are always assumed to be capable of work, however ill we are? Not just by the government, but by YOU, our supposed supporters ? And if you have noticed, what have you done about it? (Hint: I can see a big fat ZERO from my angry corner of the room)
Secondly, We read a lot online and off about the possibility of a Citizens Wage. And I am very pleased to hear that some people feel that no-one should get less than a basic minimum – carers included.
But, as regards carers, a Citizens Wage will always be a bit of a sticking plaster as long as no-one is addressing the problem of the hours that carers have no option but to work. Folks, you are magnificently blind to the implications of a 168hr week. In 13 years of 24/7 caring I personally have worked the equivalent of over 52 (yes, FIFTY TWO) years of 40hour weeks with no pay, sick pay, holiday or occupational pension to show for it. No-one has seen anything wrong with this. And there are hundreds of thousands of others like me. Astonishing!
So my second question is aimed at campaigners for social justice, at all political parties and unions, and at those who – like Mrs Jellyby – have eyes that can” see nothing nearer than Africa“.
WHY have you not noticed this huge and glaring abuse of state power and responsibility which is right under your very noses and has been there for decades? And if you have noticed, WHAT have you done about it? (Hint: I can see another big fat ZERO from my angry corner of the room)
Many people are blinded by their political beliefs to wrongs which are hiding in plain sight. We carers need every every friend we can get, o yes we do, but it would be nice to have friends who haven’t accepted in advance that the notion of carers living lives of unremitting toil and quiet desperation is fine by them!