A Plea To " Our Boy " ? Jayne Dowle Leads With A Hard Hitting Article : Yorkshire Has It's Say

A welcomed return for Jayne Doyle … must have read this forum and the praise received for the last article ?

A Yorkshire lass to boot … assuming that no one who sounded like Vera Duckworth would be let loose on the Yorkie Post ???

( Wrong side of the Pennines … chuck ? )

Jayne Dowle : Politicians failing to ease the load on society’s forgotten carers.


It’s the one thing in life almost as inevitable as death and taxes. At some point, most of us will be called upon to care for an elderly or vulnerable member of our family.

Many of us accept it as a return of the love that our parents or grandparents gave us as children. This does not mean that it comes without sacrifice. It might not be what we planned, but the obligation will fall on our shoulders. And this is not always an easy burden to juggle along with a job and other family responsibilities.

It’s not surprising then to learn that 600 people a day in the UK are giving up work to take care of their relatives, according to a new report by the charity Carers UK. That’s almost 22,000 individuals every year who leave the workforce and cease being economically active; from then onwards they will make no contribution to the economy through income tax and national insurance contributions and may rely instead of the paltry ‘Carers’ Allowance’ of £64.60 a week.

I don’t think I need to go on about what an insult this figure is to those who spend their lives 24/7 tending to an elderly or ill relative. However, what is even more insidious is that the whole arrangement offers no incentive or compromise to allow a carer to carry on working. You can claim Carers’ Allowance whether you’re in or out of work, but if you try to hold down a job at the same time, you currently can’t earn more than £120 a week. The Government is ‘generously’ raising this ceiling to £123 a week from April, promising that it will improve the standard of living for those who opt to care for another person and work at the same time.

Three pounds a week? Apart from Universal Credit, there are no benefits which underline more the massive gulf between political perception and the harsh daily reality of those it affects.

I daresay that some of our Government Ministers are lucky enough to find themselves in the position of being able to throw money at the problem. Anyone with the means can pay for a streamlined silver service of private carers, who will bring delicious hot meals three times a day to their aged parents and offer companionship, driving duties and so on. However, the truth is that most families are forced to rely on a precarious hotch-potch of over-worked care agency staff who barely have time to put the key in the door and bang a ready-meal in the microwave before they are off to their next client.

My elderly friend Betty, who recently celebrated her 92nd birthday, still lives alone but has daily carers who supplement the time her son gives to look after her. Many evenings she is put to bed by 6.30pm, simply because her carer has so many other Bettys to see to. I’m not holding out much hope that the current Government will make headway. Despite the electioneering slogan of ‘caring Conservatism’ the track record in recent years has hardly covered Tory politicians in glory.

I remember the former Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, making ham-fisted overtures about how we should all follow the model of multi-generational Asian families and embrace older relatives into our lives. This generalisation ignores several key facts; not all modern Asian families live in close proximity to each other, many families, of any background, are hugely dysfunctional and not everyone has children who can turn around and look after them when they can’t take themselves to the lavatory.

Given this woeful approach, elder care really is the kind of policy area that a decent Labour opposition should be seizing as a gift. The Shadow Minister for Social Care, Barbara Keeley, started out promisingly but hasn’t made much of a recent impact. Speaking last summer in response to the Government’s Carers’ Action Plan, she promised that the next Labour Government will show carers that they are valued. Then she detailed an investment of £8bn in social care, a rise in Carers’ Allowance by about a tenner a week to match Jobseekers’ Allowance and an updated Carers’ Strategy.

Strategy. Action Plan. They’re all meaningless words if your elderly mother has another fall in the middle of the night and you have to drive at speed from one end of the country to the other to look after her, missing work for several days and possibly jeopardising your job in the process. Precious few employers offer carers’ leave or breaks.

The problem is that ‘care’, like council tax, has become one of those elephant in the room issues which politicians are wary of tackling properly for fear of uproar. Almost any solution put forward involves personal sacrifice of some sort, from higher taxes to selling the family home. The voters don’t like that, note policy-makers, so we won’t mention it. It’s time they did. Talk about cradle to grave. It’s all very well focusing on early years education and nursery subsidies, but social care has been compromised for far too long.

A Yorkie Boadicea ?
( If anything like our very own Geordie one , should Jayne come down to London , better call out the SAS … the police couldn’t
handle her back in 2010 … the stuff of carer legends !!! )

I wouldn’t want to be in " Our Boy’s shoes " if venturing into YorkieLand with Jayne waiting to pounce … perhaps a trip
instead to Barnsley … at that finger of Dickie Bird’s … " Pointing at thee , son ! "

More from Jayne :

Jayne Dowle : Shameful inaction from politicians over care crisis.


HOW much longer can we carry on with this complacency in politics? We watch in slow-motion horror as the Government slides its way seemingly unstoppable into the car crash of a no-deal Brexit. We see Labour MPs – except for the Independent few who have put their heads above the parapet – ducking down as their leader seemingly plots a Marxist state for Great Britain.

And we look on askance as our politicians, of all denominations, stand by and do nothing as the crisis in care ruins lives. In my small corner of South Yorkshire I see it and hear about it every day; from elderly people left literally bed-bound for 12 hours at a time, to the struggles of families caring for a disabled, sick or vulnerable relative.

I’m thinking here not just of my 92-year-old friend Betty, who still lives alone and relies on carers to attend to all her daily needs, but my daughter’s friend. Her mother has a chronic osteo-arthritic condition which means she can barely walk and no longer drives. Her father has had to give up his job to look after her full-time.

Proud as they are, they must now rely on the kindness and favours of wider family and friends to live their lives. Even though they live modestly, every single penny this teenager earns from her apprenticeship and her various moonlighting jobs must go into the family pot. It’s like something from the 1920s, not the promise of the bright future for young people we’re told to expect.

Perhaps certain politicians in their insulated Westminster bubble might be surprised to learn that there are countless families in a similar situation which buck the stereotype of “care” equalling sad lonely elderly person.

I could tell them also about those bringing up disabled children, or dealing with a partner who has suddenly fallen ill with a frightening disease. I know from personal experience that no-one prepares you for this enormous shift in priorities, and no-one has time to take you aside and explain what must be done.

There are an estimated 6.5 million people who regard themselves as carers in the UK. Each of them will tell you a tale that is very personal. However, the one thing that unites all those dealing with any kind of care situation is the awful sense of resignation. Many carers have long given up on expecting the Government to improve their daily lives or offer more support, whether practical, financial or pastoral.

However, it adds insult to injury that Ministers are taking advantage of this by continuing to delay the long-promised Green Paper discussion document which aims to come up with “long-term sustainable solutions” and “measures to support carers”.

Meanwhile, care should be a gift for any kind of decent Labour opposition. Unfortunately, the leadership has been occupied elsewhere and we haven’t heard much from the Shadow Minister for Social Care, Barbara Keeley, since she promised that the next Labour government will show carers that they are valued. That was last summer.

Speaking in response to the Government’s so-called Carers’ Action Plan, she suggested that Labour would invest £8bn in social care without any details of where this money might come from. Part of Labour’s plans would apparently involve upping the paltry Carers’ Allowance of £64.60 by a princely £10 per week.

However, as any carer will tell you, it is about more than money. It is about feeling that their responsibilities are being taken seriously and that the sacrifices they make are recognised by the government.

Earlier this year, the charity Carers’ UK reported that 600 people a day in the UK are giving up work to take care of their relatives. I get the feeling, from the dismissive attitude of Ministers, that they regard this exodus as collateral damage.

Yet the inflexibility of the system means that people in all kinds of professions are having to leave behind the world of paid work, losing self-respect and self-esteem in the process.

Who cares for the carers who, perhaps having worked all their lives, have to adjust literally overnight to full-time caring? A few years ago, the Royal College of General Practitioners warned that carers should be routinely screened for depression and mental health problems as they often “neglect” their own wellbeing.

The College made various recommendations to help the estimated 40 per cent who already experience depression or psychological problems. Routine appointments with carers should be held and family doctors should maintain a carers’ register to ensure that no-one got left behind and forgotten about.

Such practical and sensitive steps would at least help to create a supportive safety net. We need more to be discussed and adopted and soon. This would mean much more than the vague promise of an extra £10 a week or a Green Paper that the Government doesn’t appear to care about at all.