Councils and Carer Strategies

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-31-2009
Councils and Carer Strategies
74
Sun, 04-12-2009 - 6:16pm

Here is a letter written by a member in response to her local council's Carers' Strategy


What about parents bringing up their own children?

I have just been reading the above strategy on the LB Greenwich website, and would like to make the following comments.

I believe parents who choose to stay at home to bring up their dependent children should be classified as carers and their needs and aspirations included in your carers' strategy.

I note that your definition of carers is based on the Carers (Recognition and Services) Act 1995, and you define a carer as 'someone who looks after or provides regular unpaid help to family members, neighbours or friends who are sick or disabled. This includes parents of children with disabilities'.

However, I would challenge this as being too narrow, and I believe Greenwich Council should be challenging it too, if you are to meet the needs of all your residents. Greenwich is a forward-looking borough in so many ways (school meals, recycling, the Olympics, to name but a few) and you should be looking to lead in this area too.


Support for parents is unfairly skewed

There is considerable help available to parents of dependent children who wish to return to work. This includes Government-funded programmes such as Sure Start centres and the childcare element of Tax Credits, but it also includes extensive Council resources such as subsidies to childcare services, support for childminders and a plethora of literature promoting commercial childcare and how to choose it.

By contrast - even though ALL ratepayers fund these initiatives - there is no corresponding support for parents who choose to stay at home with their children. Yet we are making a valid personal choice and arguably giving our children the best possible start.

(As I am sure you are aware, there is an avalanche of evidence about the negative effects of too much paid work on family relationships and children's outcomes and attainment. Study after study also shows that a significant number of parents with dependent children would prefer not to work outside the home while their children are young, if they felt they could afford that choice. I can supply many specific references for these research areas if you are interested.)

Financial hardship faced by stay-at-home parents

By doing what we believe is best for our children, and putting them first, we are also forgoing current income and future pension rights at precisely the time when our costs have risen through having to support additional dependents. In this, stay-at-home parents are no different from other kinds of carers.

For example, it becomes hard to afford things like standard prices for leisure centre activities, full-price public transport or prescription charges. Stay-at-home parents have no income and I would suggest they should receive concessions similar to those for retired people. Perhaps as a start, for example, these concessions could be to made available to all parents at home with a child under five, with a means-tested ceiling to exclude parents with very high-earning partners.

This would also send out a strong signal that Greenwich Council places a high value on the care and wellbeing of young children. Supporting those parents who wish to stay at home would help improve children's readiness to learn when they start school (eg vocabulary, speaking and listening skills; cooperative behaviour; concentration skills; and secure attachment). Again, there is considerable research evidence in this field, which I can supply if desired.

EU recognition of carers in GDP

Finally, I believe LB Greenwich should be joining the lobby at European level to achieve recognition in GDP of carers' contribution to the economy. This campaign is being led by Ireland and Sweden and would give a huge boost to the status and recognition of carers across the EU. Yet there is no mention of it in your strategy. Could it be included in your work programme?

Please don't hesitate to contact me if you have any comments about my submission. I look forward to hearing your views in due course.


http://www.fulltimemothers.org/submissions/greenwich_carers.html

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iVillage Member
Registered: 04-22-2005
Tue, 04-14-2009 - 8:14pm
Thanks! Not only did you answer my question, but you gave me lots of super cool additional info. :-)
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iVillage Member
Registered: 12-31-2008
Tue, 04-14-2009 - 8:38pm
>>Is median income and middle class interchangeable terms? <<

iVillage Member
Registered: 07-17-2007
Wed, 04-15-2009 - 6:26am

"The median income is used to determine what the middle class would be."

That assumes that the income distribution is on a bell curve. In many places it is not. It also assumes that the median income represents an income that is substantial enough to afford decent housing, health care, nutritious food, clothing...... Essentially a "livable wage". It also assumes that the cost of living is the same every where.

What you are talking about is a statistical figure of the middle 50% of the country. It is possible to have a country where over 50% of the population is living in poverty. As a result the "median" income would be below the poverty line.

Since the cost of living varies so much in the US, it is ridiculous that the Federal government uses the same scale for all areas. It doesn't do that for federal government salaries, so why should it do that for subsidy programs? ( The Senate has quite a bit to do with that- the Senate has a disproportional number of representatives of low cost areas.)

iVillage Member
Registered: 12-31-2008
Wed, 04-15-2009 - 7:23am

Oh, I am not disagreeing with you. I understand what you are saying. We moved to a small town some twenty odd years ago. Our income was double what the towns median income was. We were actually considered "upper" middle class then. lol


>>What you are talking about is a statistical figure of the middle 50% of the country.<<


No, what was out on the table here was whether or not middle class ppl could qualify for an EIC, which many do ... or I should say "could"?


I also posted the range of middle class, based on what I could find, was $25,000-$100,000. The median income is used to determine this figure. So, a couple making $40,000 might be lower middle class, but by federal standards, still fall within the range of middle class ... of course, if the $25,000-$100,000 range is, in fact, what the federal government uses.


So, I do agree with you, the figures may be skewed, but again, the issue on the table was whether or not middle class ppl could qualify for the EIC.


iVillage Member
Registered: 07-17-2007
Wed, 04-15-2009 - 8:41am

The government's definition of "middle class" is merely a statistical number representing the middle 50% of household incomes. It has no bearing on if that amount is enough to qualify for a middle class "lifestyle".

Historically, the middle class is the class is the group that still has to work for a living, yet does not live in poverty. It is possible to have more than 25% of the population living in poverty. It is possible for more than 50% of the population living in poverty. So a household earning the median income would still be living in poverty and NOT be "middle class".

iVillage Member
Registered: 04-22-2005
Wed, 04-15-2009 - 9:42am
That's the thing - mom_knitcrazy is referring the statistical definition of middle class, while you are insisting on referring to the middle class "lifestyle". In a discussion of whether middle class families qualify for EIC, she is saying that some members of the *statistical* middle class qualify.
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iVillage Member
Registered: 12-31-2008
Wed, 04-15-2009 - 10:02am
Exactly. :)
iVillage Member
Registered: 07-17-2007
Wed, 04-15-2009 - 11:28am
Then you are both saying that a Middle Class person can also live in poverty. As a result, the term "Middle Class" has no meaning for me as it does not describe anything more than a statistical average. It does not describe the living conditions of the person. All it describes is a point on a line.
iVillage Member
Registered: 04-22-2005
Wed, 04-15-2009 - 12:27pm

Yes. In fact, what you're saying is exactly what the article that mom_knitcrazy posted said:

"Conclusion
When politicians discuss the term "middle-class," most people instinctively think, "That's me." The terminology has therefore become essentially useless as a barometer for relative economic status. The data presented above show how truly demagogued the term has become, especially on the issue of AMT, where the middle class has been defined politically to mean households with incomes over three times the national household median.

Those who use the term should specify whether they are using it to refer to a set of values and type of lifestyle, or in its literal sense to refer to a range on the income spectrum. If the latter, they should clearly define the universe (that is, defining characteristics such as family size or geographic area) and the income thresholds they are referring to because, as the data above show, different subsets of the population have different income scales and different ideas about who comprises the middle class. Clarity is crucial in political debates over the middle class (or any class), and political rhetoric should be put aside in favor of accuracy. "

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iVillage Member
Registered: 12-31-2008
Wed, 04-15-2009 - 12:31pm

>>Then you are both saying that a Middle Class person can also live in poverty.<<


No, what is being said to you, which you keep failing to comment on, is a person can qualify for EIC and be "statically" middle class.


>>All it describes is a point on a line. <<


No, that would be the median income, not what is generally termed as a middle class range.


um, you don't have to be living in poverty to qualify for an EIC.


>>As a result, the term "Middle Class" has no meaning for me as it does not describe anything more than a statistical average<<


I wonder, if maybe just once, you could comment on what is being discussed. What you consider "middle class" has no bearing on who is eligible for an EIC.

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