An exploration of the UK carer world

Draft summary                     to be linked from here       hidden page  i.e. not listed here or here or shown normally  YET

Parent Carer Voice Event

Update 14 Dec   

To refer etc to any extent to the 6 Dec event on 18 Dec is probably too late.  I plan to use this page within a later topic.


  • It is a draft summary, it is put forward on a suggestion  basis, and the reader's involvement is requested.  All contribtions are welcome.  ??? within text invites clarification.  

  • The author of the letter in No. 2 has been asked if it can put on a separate page linked from this one.

  • This page is written for the general reader and includes material carers might take for granted.

  • It will be available to readers on Monday 16 December at noon.




Jacqui Bremner, HCS Director,  opened the session by welcoming the speakers Jesse Norman and Bill Wiggin, and all present.  She continued by commenting on core funding received from Herefordshire County Council and that HCS is absolutely focused on Carers as opposed to the person they are caring for.  Our conversation is “How are you, the Carer, today?". 


A group member remarked that we are here today to ensure that the children we care for are given the proper consideration.  We have written to Lord Nash and have received a reply, but not from him..  (A copy had been circulated at the start of the meeting.) The Daniel Pelke case showed what can happen when the interests and needs of the parent are seen to be more important than those of the children we care for.  It is entirely offensive that we as parent carers are compared with such a parent. ((source needed))


Bill Wiggin said that it is important to establish that the reply had come from the Dept for Education here.  That Dept has not yet recovered from the Ed Balls situation. ?? 


Another group member remarked that Edward Timpson* had said that adequate provision exists within the 1999 Children Act. Sue Black of HCS contributed that the Local Authority makes provision within the best interests of the child. 

((A possible letter of relevance is here.))

*Having grown up with over 80 foster children and adopted siblings - many of whom had been damaged by troubled backgrounds - I went on to spend a decade as a family barrister, often representing children in care. From here  and mention of parent rights.


Jacqui Bremner came in with the notion that the simplest form of help might be to connect someone with child-care issues to another parent.  Alternatively, we can connect them with a higher level of support within the overall provision.  Caring is a life-long journey.  On our register we have a fifteen-year old, a twenty-year old, a forty-four year old and an eighty-four year old.  The assumption is that wherever you are on that journey, you will require support.  Don't wait for a crisis before you deal with it and that's the prime purpose of HCS. 


(Jacqui Bremner) In today's situation it is a child protection model (consider and this).  Where funding issues are being dealt with, those in authority take the stance of waiting to see if there's a problem.  All of us here are well aware that if you support families, you support those with special needs within those families.  It's quite simple.  A member remarked that if you reduce the level of family breakdown you reduce the number of children being taken into care.   


Another member made the comment that her thirteen-year old daughter has more rights than she does.  We are the main carers.  There is the myth that we are carers in the sense that all parents are carers.  We go much further than normal parents.  When you have two children with very different care needs and have to fight for everything,  life is even more difficult.  Jesse Norman commented that there is a need to balance the bureaucracy with sensitivity to specific needs.  


A member said that she is quite happy to pay her taxes as none of us knows when we are going to need help.  She cannot understand why anyone would resent paying tax within the framework of insurance.  Jesse Norman thought that there are contradictions here.  His constituents include a young couple, both working, three children, tiny house etc while down the road there are plenty of others who ridicule the system.  There is no balance between intuition and fairness.  It's a matter of focusing resources in the right way.  


The same member continued by saying that nobody likes scroungers, we all hate them.  She sees the Atos system as really unfair 

 ((((This was typed on 9 Dec when Atos was in the news here.)))


Jesse Norman replied saying that members only need drop him a line and he will pursue matters raised by them.  The system isn't immune to change but every little nudge helps.  At this point another member said she knew of cases where Widow's Allowance and Carer's Allowance are not paid simultaneously  …???..  These are two separate issues and that separation is not taken into account.  Bill Wiggin replied that the benefit system is being changed.  All the anomalies you have put forward (not all are within this summary)  are completely counter to what we want to achieve.


(Bill Wiggin)  On the matter of ATOS, a lot of people have been terrified by the test.  It takes an appeal for most of the cases to be dealt with properly. However, a member stated that those who assess are not medical people.  Jesse Norman commented that previously, when GPs conducted the tests, the same applicants came in week after week.  They couldn't be turned away until signed off by the GP.  About a million of the 2.7 million cases are in hand. ??  The ATOS test provides a crude first assessment.  Virtually all cases are dealt with eventually.  A member asked if properly qualified assessors are involved at the appeal stage.  Jesse Norman said that about 30% of applicants fail to turn up.  The stigma of claiming benefits is a major influence.  In the majority of cases, things work to good final result.  The backlog goes way back before the present government took over. 


Bill Wiggin continued by saying that we can't use a shotgun approach and more focus is needed.  We are moving in the right direction.  If we don't have a functioning economy, there's no money for anybody.


To be contunued

pagetop here         for pasting     Summary of Herefordshire Carers Support - Parent Carer Voice Meeting - 6 Dec 2013 here