Big debate: wage for carers

Carers should be given a wage for looking after sick and elderly relatives, said representatives from voluntary organisation Elders Voice, at a hustings for Parliamentary candidates standing in the borough, writes Kate Ferguson. Raising a concern, which s

Carers should be given a wage for looking after sick and elderly relatives, said representatives from voluntary organisation Elders Voice, at a hustings for Parliamentary candidates standing in the borough, writes Kate Ferguson.

Raising a concern, which struck a chord with many pensioners in the audience, Lizzie Spring, chief executive of Elders Voice, said some members had called for a carer's wage of between �15,000 and �20,000 per annum.

Ms Spring said: "Many carers face a choice of working or having to give up their job and care for their relatives.

"One solution would be to bring in a carer's wage so they wouldn't have to make this choice and people could stay in their homes longer.


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"There is a major concern in Brent about the lack of support for carers."

All candidates agreed the idea merited further thinking, but warned that the viability of any carers wage depended upon the ability of the government to pay.

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Barry Gardner, Labour candidate for Brent North, said: "These sorts of lateral and innovative approaches should be looked at."

Lib Dem candidate, Sarah Teather said the idea was worth considering, and that organisations in the carer's sector should work together to model and cost the proposal.

Incumbent Tory Cllr Irwin van Colle, standing in for Conservative candidates Sachin Rajput and Harshadbahi Patel, said: "I have to be cautious about this because I would like to say lets do it. But the suggestion inevitably means a greater cost for the public purse."

A lively audience of around 80 pensioners from across Brent quizzed the four candidates - Dawn Butler, Barry Gardner, Sarah Teather, and Irwin Van Colle - on a range of topics, including social housing waiting lists and the winter fuel allowance.

kate.ferguson@archant.co.uk

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