The Conservative government has managed to find a way to screw working people over even on a snow day.
Severe weather disruptions have made it difficult for people receiving social care to get the services they need. But instead of providing enough resources to ensure people are safe, Theresa May’s administration has simply left volunteers to pick up the pieces.
Unpaid labour saves the day
It’s important to note that, even on normal days, people do shocking amounts of unpaid care work for the government. In 2014, for example, volunteers contributed care work worth around £56.9bn – three times the entire annual government budget for UK social care.
Rescue response during severe snow
On 1 February, the Met Office issued a severe weather warning for the south and south-east of England, along with parts of western Wales, Northern Ireland and some of northern Scotland. This is dangerous for people at the wrong end of cuts to social-care budgets that have left some services “on the brink of collapse”.
Snow days exacerbate the problem. And the further lack of government action forces unpaid samaritans, who already have other commitments, to help people survive. Simon Avery-Sutton, emergency planning liaison officer at the response unit BORG, said:
Our volunteers are a fantastic group who work with the Council regularly when the weather turns bad. A lot of us have older family members and the thought of someone going without essential care is a real incentive to get out where we can and help. We know that when there is bad weather, the frequency of need for customers doesn’t change. Care services, with their busy schedules, are seriously impacted and the 4×4 response for business continuity is vital.
Gill Quinton, strategic director of communities, health and adult social care at Bucks County Council, added:
The ability to collaborate with the fab volunteers at BORG to make sure we get to these people cannot be underestimated.
Vulnerable residents going without a hot meal in freezing weather or not getting vital health services is not an option for us. Our care teams always go the extra mile contacting customers, making sure help and services reach them. My deep admiration and gratitude goes out to everyone who really digs in to help.
The government’s exploitation of unpaid carers and its cavalier attitude to those who need the services is not only dangerous but counterproductive too. Rather than saving money, it only shifts the responsibility on to relatives or friends who are then too tired or busy to work. This is one reason the UK is deep in a productivity crisis; because many people are too busy picking up the pieces for the government to be properly productive in the workplace.
Instead of relying on unpaid helpers, the government should have paid response teams to make sure people are safe on snow days. Snow impacts everyone, so a communal strategy makes sense.
Featured image via BBC/ YouTube
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