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Welfare Reform on the Web (January 2008): Social care - UK - community care

So many contradictions

A. Taylor

Community Care, Dec. 6th 2007, p. 18-19

Some mainstream government policies offer help to carers, while others appear to be working against them. One piece of legislation that stands out for its consideration of carers is the Childcare Act 2006, which places a duty on councils to ensure adequate provision of childcare places for disabled children in their area. On the other hand government’s policy on tax credits is unhelpful, as the sum available to meet childcare costs is the same for both disabled and non-disabled children, despite childcare for the former being up to five times as expensive. Other examples of contradictory policies are given in the article.

A social contract

S. Yeandle

Community Care, Dec. 6th 2007, p. 30-31

Research by the pressure group Carers UK has shown that carers are more likely to be in poor health themselves due to the strain of looking after sick or disabled relatives. They also suffer financial penalties through having to give up work or reduce their hours, as well as due to the costs of caring for a seriously ill or disabled person. Finally, carers become socially excluded and suffer from isolation and loneliness.

Steps in the right direction

L. Revans

Community Care, Dec. 6th 2007, p. 14-15

The government’s revised strategy on carers is due to be published in March 2008. Campaigning charities are lobbying for a new social contract between carers and the state. Under this carers would expect:

  • vastly improved cash benefits
  • removal of barriers to education, employment and training
  • a duty to be laid on local authorities to promote equality in relation to carers.

We know the price but not the value

M. Ivory

Community Care, Dec. 6th 2007, p. 26-27

The pressure group Carers UK claims that, if informal carers were paid for their work, it would cost the state £87bn per year, roughly the same as the NHS budget. The Wanless Review of long-term care for older people estimated that an extra £2bn a year was needed to support carers, while Julien Forder, a health economist, claims that formal carers would need to be paid about £10bn to take on the work of family and friends. Carers are angry about the poverty they are forced to endure as a consequence of their role, but politicians warn that significant improvements in cash benefits are unlikely because of the impact on taxation. The consensus appears to be that more should be done for carers as long as it doesn’t cost very much.

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