My partner came home from work a few days ago and told me about a heated debate he’d been listening to on the radio regarding Carers Allowance. There appears to be a misconception that anyone can claim it, and that people do so when they don’t need to. If you want to get my blood pumping then talk to me about Carers Allowance. I’ve expressed my feelings when I wrote this a while ago.
I am in receipt of Carers Allowance. £64.60 per week paid from the Government. Do I feel deserving? Yes and no. I feel fraudulent claiming to look after my own child when that would be the case regardless of his disability. But I am also guilty of normalizing the level of care he needs since I know no different, as a few examples (and there are many more):
- Not knowing if I am going to be up for several hours a night is not normal
- A child unable to walk alongside you when out of the house (because they want to run and see no danger in doing so) is not normal
- An almost 5 year old unable to dress themselves and then resisting any help offered is not normal
- Having no care in the world if you are heavily soiled is not normal.
- Not being able to talk or communicate effectively or efficiently is not normal.
- Not being able to get a regular job because of there is no care outside of school time (before and after school plus during the holidays) is not normal.
Yet all the above and more is absolutely normal to us so of course there is a level of guilt in claiming. I don’t see it as the huge privilege that many of the listeners to this radio show suggested and got enraged by. Yes, I am grateful that our country has a benefits system that means I can get this but I am also grossly insulted by the associated discrimination. For example Job Seekers Allowance is more money than Carers Allowance. Why? And why is there childcare options readily available for ‘normal’ children to allow parents to go back to work but the options for us are so severely limited? Based on the fact you have to care for someone for 35 hours a week minimum to be entitled to it, the hourly rate definitely doesn’t meet minimum wage the country has fought hard to put in place to counteract poverty. Perhaps they should consider the poverty people are in through circumstances beyond their control and the lack of support services willing to help. Nobody chooses to be in the position of claiming Carers Allowance, because to be entitled to it you need to prove that the person you care for needs the additional care.
Out of interest I checked out the National Office for Statistics to see how I faired as an average when looking into household expenditure. There appears to be a rather sickening deficit in what I am paid versus what the average weekly spend is, even if I divide the average weekly spend of £554.20 by 2 (the number of adults in my household who can contribute) there is still a deficit of £212.50 per week. Money I could earn if the systems were in place to make it more within reach rather than a seeming impossibility.
Think about your current circumstances and then out of nowhere they change, perhaps your partner or parent gets sick and you need to leave work to look after them, or you have a child like mine who is a bit different and needs more nurturing. It’s a scary, but very real possibility. You will work tirelessly because you love them and will do so unconditionally. That is obvious, do you know why? Because you get paid £1.84 per hour – and that’s assuming you clock off after 35 hours.