Guest post from Peaches
About a year ago I saw a job advertised locally for an ‘Economic Inactivity Worker’. The job was unsuitable due to hours but the phrase struck me: Economic Inactivity? What exactly did they mean by that, I wondered? Who would that apply to and how much of a personal history is taken into account when they decide if the person they mean is you (or me)?
It would appear that as a Carer, I am indeed in that box. I thought I might be somehow. Is it true though? Well obviously for many ‘Carer’ status runs alongside working part time. So already we would have to ask people to engage their intellect and try and understand the many variations when looking at the term. Then there are those studying part time (never understood why full time study isn’t allowed with CA- surely the Government likes anything that makes people more employable in the long term? Assuming they think long term, anyway).
But after the nit picking I’d still argue that it’s a term that is simple misleading.
Firstly, the economics: quite a popular field right now, economics. Especially when used as an excuse for bigotry.
Carer’s Allowance- £55.55 per week. DLA- max rate care, £71.40 per week.
Calderdale Council cost of nursing single room- £492 per week.
Of course it’s more complex than that: someone living independently will need support but equally they will be paying to a landlord or a mortgage, someone in receipt of DLA may well be working and paying NI and Income Tax. The worker employed to support a carer, disabled person in their own home or disabled person in a nursing home will be paid and contribute economically.
The reality is that lumping people together- recently redundant with never-wanted- to work; disabled with housewife; carer with student in one big economically inactive category reduces the burden on people to think. To ask why they might be in that situation, how much choice was involved, to understand the reality of people’s lives.
I worked for a parenting charity once- and the big lesson I learned was:’ never make an assumption about someone’s life based on your own experiences, there will always be a back story to any decision you wouldn’t have made yourself‘.
But instead of trying to understand (and with that comes enabling, perhaps the only TRUE way out of economic meltdown?) we lump people into one big block: economically inactive. Whether footballer’s wife or terminally ill, all of the group is the same- not contributing.
Except of course a little thought shows that is just poppycock.
People – they’re all individuals with different needs and talents and abilities.
Trouble is that it serves those who make the rules and sell the agendas to believe otherwise.