Proposal One: That we award Carers Benefit to all live-in carers, irrespective of age, income, or employment, just as DLA/PIP is (or should be) given to those they care for.
This would not only recognise (in part) the range and responsibilities of work they do, it would mean many carers who can fit in a little work around their caring responsibilities would be able to do so without the fear of losing this support. (And as paid work brings in tax revenue, the state may well find it is compensated for some – maybe a lot – of this outlay.)
Proposal Two: The state pays into an occupational pension scheme for each fulltime carer to reflect what they might expect to have put in if they were working , say, an 80 hours a week at minimum wage. This would give end-of-life value to all those years in which they worked hard for someone else’s benefit. (It would also be likely save the state pension benefit top-ups to the carer at end of life).
Proposal Three: Establish solid practical careers advice and training to help carers train for and sustain appropriate work within their environment (bearing in mind all the work that could be done this way if the will were there: teleworking, local working, working that can be supported around care needs). This would maintain skills, support a career, restore confidence and provide longterm independence for the carer. This is not just about fairness, though it is. Its about economic commonsense.
Proposal Four: Take social housing back from the sem-autonomous situation it now occupies and ENSURE that it recognises the requirements of disability and caring in the allocation of rooms. When doing so the state must alsoENSURE that sufficient appropriate accommodation is purpose-built for the disabilities of the local population. This would mean that carers are not further worried by the constraints of, say, caring for tetraplegia in a first floor unmodified flat. If you fail to support the people with disabilities in this way, much of the additional stress is felt by those who care for them.
Proposal Five: Finally, when allocating money to support carers, the state must ensure that money is ONLY given to organisations that offer properly targeted transport-accessible help that is fit for purpose to everyone who needs it. It doesn’t seem a big ask – but look around and see how many organisation do this. Stop regionalising carers or subdividing them into disease-specific tranches. You may not be intending to divide and rule, but that is what you’re doing.
Who wins? Everyone!
Carers win, because they don’t feel shafted by fate and apathy and can see that their life prospects are valued and being protected
The cared for person wins. How guilty and how annoyed wouldyou feel to recognise that state policy is ensuring your condition may be assisting in the inexorable decline of your loved one’s life?
The state wins. It puts in an insignificant outlay and targets other resources better. In return it gets a more employable, less dependent population with greater chances of a productive outcome.
Best of all,it avoids the current shocking waste of a large chunk of the human capital of this nation.