Today the National Audit Office (NAO) released a report called Investigation into overpayments of Carers Allowance, many mainstream media have picked it up from the NAOs Press Release and reported on it too but I would like to go further and report how this has impacted on my wife or should that in fact be a family as although it was her carers allowance it has impacted on the family unit.
My wife who I and many others see as the good lady as that is exactly what she was then and remains so now took on the responsibility of caring for her mum in the mid 1990’s, this responsibility got greater as the years past due her mum’s main condition of Alzheimer’s Disease (AD).
We would never dream of putting her/our mum in a care home that thought never entered our minds she was family and thus our responsibility to care for her, however we do understand why many families take that route as it is not easy when you have your own school children and jobs to hold onto as well but that we juggled.
So I was working full-time and my wife was working part-time in the evenings so that she could put in the 35 hours a week that the law says you must do to be entitled to claim Carers Allowance, it also and the reason why my wife went to work in the evenings gave her time to escape and be herself and not have to worry about her mum whilst I cared for her and had time with my two young sons in the evenings.
It was a system we had that worked well and most importantly kept mum at home where she wanted to be with her grandsons which she enjoyed the most as well as saving the Government an absolute fortune in care home fees which at the time we was glad to do.
I cannot tell you enough how important that bond our mum had with her grandsons was it was precious and special times they had together in her final years.
However as time went on her needs got greater and greater putting more and more pressure on my wife but she carried on despite it being a hectic life to lead her family of her mum her children and me was the most important and thus forever in the front of her mind it simply did not cross her mind to keep a check on her working hours so rigidly, she never thought she was doing anything wrong and in fact I’d say she was a saint.
But wrong she was according to the DWP even though she had much more important things on her mind, but sometimes she would go over her permitted hours by 15 minutes in a week, sometimes 30 minutes sometimes an hour but that was enough to lose all that weeks carers allowance.
The job she was in was a shop assistant mostly working the tills in the evening it was a customer depended job meaning someone always had to be on the tills but if someone was late she could not go home and had to stay on until till swap was done etc.
She did not want to leave and find another job as she enjoyed it meeting customers chatting to staff indeed it fitted well with her other responsibilities at home and although now our mum has since passed away over 20 years later she is still their doing that job but now a Duty Manager.
But the upshot is all that Carers Allowance rightly and fairly earned she had to pay it all back all £18,000 of it rounded so in the end it will have cost the Govt not only nothing in care home fees but nothing either in carers allowance and my wife, oh she has the punishment of seeing that attachment of earnings on her payslip every month long into the future as her thanks for saving the Govt a fortune.
My wife btw also get no letter or statement from the DWP to show how much she has paid back or has left to pay she is paying it via attachment of earnings each month but is totally in the dark as to when this will be over furthermore it was a good 10 years before they wrote to her for a compliance interview too why?
That I feel is very unfair in itself.