Carers and General Election 2015

15 September 2014

question markAre you an unpaid family carer? 

Are you worried about cuts to benefits and social care?  Have you been affected by lack of respite? …… and so the list goes on.

We are compiling a list of questions to be sent to Ministers from ALL main political parties. Any responses will be posted on this blog.

Please add your question in the comments below or send email to Rosemary at admin@carerwatch.com

Please share with your networks

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What others are saying  –

 

from Richard Hawkes  Chair of Care and Support Alliance

In the last few months we’ve heard again from local authorities about the chronic underfunding in the social care system.  Figures from ADASS show that there has been a 26% reduction in social care budgets over the last four years.

As a result, we are seeing a rapidly rising number of older and disabled people who struggle to get the support they need to simply get up, get dressed and get out of the house.

This is placing unbearable pressure on family carers, who are simply unable to fill the gap left by care cuts. The number of people providing full-time care to loved ones is now over 1.4 million, many of who are being pushed to breaking point.

The new Care Act is bold and ambitious.  But delivering on it is dependent on putting the social care system on a sustainable financial footing.We need all political parties to be bold and commit to investing in social care, so that older people, disabled people and the families who care for them get the support they need to live well.

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 from Moira Fraser, Director of Policy and Research, Carers Trust

The General Election in 2015 is a crucial opportunity for carers’ voices to be heard. So many issues have impacted on carers in the last four year – changes to the NHS, in welfare benefits and cuts to the services available locally.

Carers votes count. Carers should be able to access adequate support to ensure they and the people they care for are well supported, healthy, and have a  life of their own.

All political parties should make it a priority to recognise the needs of carers. Making sure the rights won under the Care Act in England are properly implemented, including providing the funding to do this, would be a good place to start.

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from Heléna Herklots, Chief Executive of Carers UK

Just as more and more families take on caring responsibilities, carers are facing a combination of cuts to social care and benefits. As we approach a general election, all political parties must pledge to stop cutting carers support and urgently put in place measures to prevent carers’ financial hardship and ensure social care services can meet growing demand.

Without this we will see growing numbers of families pushed to breaking point, forced to give up their jobs to care and at risk of debt, isolation and exhaustion.

 

 

 

 

Carers pushed to breaking point

11 September 2014

Press release from CarersUK

11 September 2014

Carers across the UK are being pushed to the brink – suffering exhaustion, physical and mental breakdown as they struggle to care for older or disabled loved ones.

Carers UK’s Carers at breaking point research – based on a survey of over 5,000 carers1 – shows:

  • 6 in 10 caring for an older, disabled or seriously ill loved one have reached breaking point.
  • A quarter needing medical treatment as a result.
  • 63% suffered depression and 79% reported anxiety.

see in full here

 

Don’t knock armchair activism – its an important part of our work

24 October 2014

copied from DPAC

There are a lot of activists who don’t like petitions. They don’t sign them. They don’t share them. They look down on them as not being worthwhile.

And quite often they are right. Most petitions are a waste of time and energy. But just occasionally one petition will take off and it will change the world, just a little bit.

A case in point is this petition - Hold an inquiry into benefit sanctions that killed my brother

After 211,778 signed this petition the House of Commons Work and Pensions Committee have taken up the case and launched an inquiry :-

Here is the press release from Change.org and an article in the Mirror about it


 

MPs set to hold benefit sanctions inquiry following 200K petition after ex soldier died when his Jobseekers’ Allowance was stopped

More than 211,000 people signed a Change.org petition started by Gill Thompson calling for an inquiry into benefit sanctions after her diabetic David Clapson, 59, was found dead in his home. Read the rest of this entry »

Employment Support allowance ‘easier to claim’ – joke

10 September 2014

CarerWatch and Pat’s Petition welcome the discussion on 5th September 2014 comparing the ease of access to ESA (Employment and Support Allowance) with access to the old IB (Incapacity Benefit).

ESA logo

However it is important to compare like with like. The new ESA is not equivalent to the old IB and they should not be compared directly. We would suggest that the new ESA Support Group alone should be considered as equivalent to the award of long term IB. If you compare these figures you will find that it is much harder to get in to the Support Group than it was to claim IB.

The ESA WRAG (Work Related Activity Group) is a temporary, time limited benefit, suitable for people with short term injuries or illnesses, who will get better and return to work within a year. It only lasts twelve months. It is the equivalent of the old short term IB.

We would also note other distortions to the figures including the time taken to process the initial application. If there is a short time to process, then all the short term injuries need to be counted, whereas with a longer processing period, these short term disabilities are gone before they are included.

We have pressed for a cumulative impact assessment of these changes and slowly we are seeing acknowledgement that this must be done . We cannot wait much longer.

We have always said that changes should not be brought in until the full effects are understood: they wouldn’t do this in any new transport system or construction plan so why are they allowed to experiment in this way on disabled people? .

There are many other issues involved in the comparisons – this needs serious analysis from professional and independent statisticians such as those at Sheffield Hallam University. This would all be part of a thorough cumulative impact assessment and we urge the government to ensure this is completed as a matter of urgency.

Frances Kelly

Pat Onions

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Independent Living fund Drop in tomorrow – House of Commons

1 September 2014
Independent Living fund Drop in
 
– with BBC Silent Witness actress Liz Carr
 
2 September 2014; 2 – 4pm; House of Commons Committee Room 19
 

pic from BBC

This drop in session will be a chance for MPs to find out more about the closure of the ILF which currently supports nearly 18,000 disabled people with the highest support needs to live independently in the community, to contribute to society in employment, education, volunteering, as family members, friends and as members of our communities and to build the local economy through employing teams of Personal Assistants.

The surgery will be an opportunity to ask questions and to speak to Liz who has been enabled, through support from the ILF, to progress an acting career that has spanned stand-up comedy, presenting for BBC and primetime television.

Also in attendance to answer your questions will be an ILF staff representative and a disabled person who missed out on the ILF through its closure to new applicants in 2010 and whose experiences reflect those of many other disabled people now excluded from participating in areas of life that non-disabled people take for granted.

The Drop in is being organized by PCS Union, Disabled People Against Cuts and Inclusion London.

For more information contact ellen.clifford@inclusionlondon.co.uk or Natasha@pcs.org.uk

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Response from Paul Burstow re LibDem policies for carers

30 July 2014

Recently CarerWatch posted a response relating to a manifesto promise for carers from the LibDems.  You can read it here

We received wide spread support for the post, and also exchanged tweets with Paul Burstow, Liberal Democrat MP for Sutton and Cheam. As a result we contacted Mr Burstow asking if he wished to respond more fully to our comments.  (Many carers are tied to the home and engaging online is their only way of engaging with politicians.)

You can read his reply below……..

Feel free to add comments/questions. We will be sending copies to Mr Burstow, along with politicians from other parties.  Any replies will be posted in the open again.

 

A few weeks ago Nick Clegg announced the first of a series of policies for carers.  The Carer’s Bonus, £250 paid annually, on top of the Carers Allowance, for the carer to use as they see fit.  The proposal sparked a lot of debate, and CarerWatch posted a strong critique of the plan.  I am grateful for the opportunity to respond.

Caring responsibilities can come at any time in a person’s life and can exact a heavy price in both health and wealth. About 6 in 10 of us will become carers at some point in our lives, and 45% of carers have given up work to care.

The bonus idea was developed by the Liberal Democrats Ageing Society Working Group, which I chair, as part of our Age Ready Britain policy paper.

The bonus would be paid annually to Carers to use as they see fit, for example as a contribution toward extra costs such as taking a break. To start with it would be set at £125, doubling to £250 no later than 2020. The Bonus is more like a direct payment to contribute to things like respite care. It is not intended to be an answer to all the financial challenges faced by Carers.

This would put extra money in Carers’ hands to make their own decisions about how it can best support them.  The Carer’s Bonus marks out our commitment to promoting the wellbeing of carers and is the first of a number of proposals aimed at better supporting carers that we spell out in our policy paper Age Ready Britain which will be published in September.

The £250 payment would be available to around a million people based on underlying entitlement to the benefit. So, for example, pensioners who are eligible for Carers allowance but because of overlapping benefit rules do not receive it would receive the Bonus.  It would start at £125 and increase year on year to £250 no later than 2020.

The proposal builds on measures we have taken in Government like investing £400mn in NHS funded respite breaks, or new rights for Carers in the Care Act and Children and Families Act, and rights to flexible working.

I agree with the comments about the earnings disregard and the withdrawal of the benefit when engaged in education and these are issues we address on Age Ready Britain.

Thank you for the opportunity to respond.

Paul

* Paul Burstow is Liberal Democrat MP for Sutton and Cheam.

 

 

 

Employment and Support Allowance and Work Capability Assessments – Work and Pensions Committee Report

23 July 2014
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This is what multi party Select Committees were invented for. As a safety measure for situations exactly like this – when the main political parties cause a disaster and then gang up and turn their faces to the wall and refuse to see the enormous harm their misguided policies are causing.
Work and Pensions Select Committee
 
This report has been written by MPs who actually understand what is happening to sick and disabled people on the ground.
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Work and Pensions Committee
Select Committee Press Notice

AN06 2014-15
22 July 2014

Under embargo until 00.01am on Wednesday 23 July 2014

Report: Employment and Support Allowance and Work Capability Assessmentsread report here

List of conclusions and recommendations here  

Employment and Support Allowance is not achieving its aims and needs fundamental
redesign, say MPs

The flaws in the Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) system are so grave that simply “rebranding” the assessment used to determine eligibility for ESA (the Work Capability Assessment (WCA)) by appointing a new contractor will not solve the problems, says the Work and Pensions Committee in a report published today.

The Committee calls on the Government to undertake a fundamental redesign of the ESA end-to-end process to ensure that the main purpose of the benefit – helping claimants with health conditions and disabilities to move into employment where this is possible for them – is achieved. This will take some time, but the redesign should be completed before the new multi-provider contract is tendered, which is expected to be in 2018.

In the meantime, the Committee recommends a number of changes which should be made now, to help ensure that claimants receive an improved service, and that the outcomes for claimants are more appropriate.

Dame Anne Begg MP, Committee Chair, said:

Read the rest of this entry »

Nick Clegg finally speaks up for disabled people

17 July 2014

Below is an open letter we have sent to him today.

Please write too and ask him to take the threats and coercion off the WRAG.

 

Dear Mr Clegg

Pat’s Petition is a group that campaigns for disabled people. CarerWatch is  a group that campaigns for carers.

Before you entered the Coalition we had a lot of support from the LibDems –  especially from Baroness Celia Thomas.

We are writing to you to tell you how pleased we are that you have made this  announcement about the Bedroom Tax. As you say – the penalties contained in  the legislation are not achieving the desired result because people aren’t able to move to smaller properties. In the case of disabled people leaving  converted properties and supportive local networks also makes no sense.

We are writing to ask you if you could similarly examine the coercive  threats in the Work Related Activity Group (WRAG) of the Employment and  Support Allowance (ESA).

These penalties are also not achieving the desired result of getting sick  and disabled people in to work. The statistics speak for themselves.

Sanctions, forced activity, time limits and an absurdly low level means test are causing panic and fear of the WRAG. People are so fearful of being  allocated to the WRAG that the appeals system is broken. Fear of sanctions  with no way forward is cruel.

We sincerely hope that the LibDems will once more become the party that  supports disabled people and carers.

Pat x
Pat’s Petition

Frances
CarerWatch

The Nine most terrifying words in the English Language are….

15 July 2014

 

………………… I’m from the government, and I’m here to help

 

copied from  mental health & mental healthcare blog

Compulsory treatment and benefit sanctions: stoking fear and prejudice for political ends

Benefits Street arrived on the iPads of Telegraph readers on Saturday night. A story about scroungers refusing help to get back on their feet and the Conservative party’s proposed “tough love” solution provoked strong reactions. And that’s no surprise.

People with mental health problems who are unable to work and dependent on state support were led to believe that payments would be docked if they refused treatment. This would effectively make state-sanctioned treatment compulsory on pain of losing your only source of income. Telegraph readers were fed the line that people with common mental health problems were willfully refusing to engage with treatments almost guaranteed to succeed just so that they could lounge about at taxpayers’ expense; but reassured that the Tories had proposed a simple and cost-effective solution (sanctions and compulsory treatment) to get people back to work.

IDS1

Although at first glance the story might follow a coherent line, at second glance it became clear there was more to it. None of the reasons for publishing the story (see below) had anything to do with the advice of mental health professionals nor with helping people with mental health problems back into paid work: people with mental health problems are being used as pawns in a game of politics.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Do you have experience of Palliative Care services?

10 July 2014

I’ve been engaged by Marie Curie to research the experiences of disabled people when they reach the end of their life – in other words, disabled people who had palliative care.

I’m looking to interview carers of disabled people who have sadly passed away.

Marie curie

 

These will be telephone interviews lasting no longer than 20 minutes. Total anonymity is guaranteed.  The stories (good and bad) will be fed to Marie Curie who hope to publish a report in the Autumn which is likely to recommend change.  The calls are completely unscripted and allow people an opportunity, in free flow, to talk about their loved ones’ experiences.

People are very welcome to email me at this address

mark.shrimpton@disabilitysolutionsworldwide.com

You are also welcome to note that I have had personal experience of this issue.

Thanks so much.

Mark Shrimpton.

 

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