by D.J. Webb
don’t have time for a long post, but I was surprised to read today that the welfare state is expanding, not being scaled back, and that people who care for elderly and disabled relatives will gain the legal right to “time off”, with councils required by law to provide stand-ins for them. See http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/elderhealth/9320910/Carers-to-be-given-respite-holidays.html for a news report.
I am sure caring is a burden and that people who care for others are deserving of admiration, but it is the wrong thing to do, especially in a financial crisis, to be expanding the welfare state. This can only push up council tax bills.
The state should not be trying to unpick the web of obligations that bind family members. Those ties should not become ties to the state instead. Family life should not be interfered in by the state, and the state should not seek to become another arm of the family. This is wrong in every possible way.
We ought to be trying to build on existing family obligations to withdraw existing state provision. At the moment, policies that encourage family breakup have led to the situation where many people have no family to turn to. We need to encourage the family once again – libertarians who believe there is no need for family values and morality are in fact propagandising for state intervention – and force families to support their relatives.
However burdensome it is to care for relatives, it is really a private problem. I regard it as nothing short of fraud for carers to seek government intervention to provide them with “holidays”, holidays from obligations that the state has no right to weaken or abrogate.
Along with other wrongheaded social policies, this policy will embed itself in society and become difficult or impossible to change in the future. People will become used to the state being the family carer, and will start screaming about uncaring policies if they are ever asked to do their own family duties once again.
That report also says that the government expects many more adults to be forced to care for relatives in the future as society ages. All the more reason not to open up area of the welfare state for vested interests to colonise.