Chipping Norton carer seeks debate on pay in Commons

Matt Harris from Chipping Norton is organizing a carers' petition. NNL-171031-164349009
Matt Harris from Chipping Norton is organizing a carers' petition. NNL-171031-164349009

A Chipping Norton man who looked after his elderly and ill mother for eight years has launched a national petition in a bid to get the Government to pay carers a living wage.

Matt Harris, 41, of Hailey Drive, managed all his mother’s needs, including personal care until her death two years ago.

Without publicity, his UK Government and Parliament Petition has already raised 5,400 signatures.

“My hope is that once it gets more publicity and starts to get shared, it could get the 100,000 signatures it needs to win a debate in Parliament,” he said.

Mr Harris said he hopes that waiting until his mother had died, and he would no longer benefit from the change he seeks, might avoid accusations of self interest.

“I wanted to change things to get unpaid carers paid a living wage,” he said.

“According to the Government the average it costs for a person to have professional carers to visit three times a day in their own home and to get them to and from appointments is £100,000 a year.

“I spent seven years caring for my mum. She had Huntington’s Disease and she had a fall at home.

“I never intended to do personal or palliative care but that is what happened.

“She was bed-bound for four months before she died; she was incontinent for five years and she died without a single bed sore because she had me there to care for her. I devoted myself to her.

“She went away occasionally so I did get some respite but that was a maximum of six weeks a year and she had to pay.

“Through my petition, I am aiming to get this issue discussed in Parliament.

“People are taking the subject up all over the country. It’s beginning to get attention in other areas.

“So many people, including the young, are acting as unpaid carers.

“Officially, they can’t get wages, but I believe they should get an allowance that reflects the living wage.

“A primary carer has a continuous relationship with those they are caring for.

“The day-to-day needs and wants of the person they care for are second nature, if they truly do care, the carer puts themselves second.”

Mr Harris believes paying carers an allowance that matches the 24-hour commitment that is put in would be a solution to the growing problem of the ageing population while funds for professional and agency care are shrinking.

“Pay them a wage of perhaps £23,000 a year and maybe rent on top because what you get for that is someone who will always have their best interests at heart despite how hard the job can be.

“Why pay them a carer’s allowance that is less than you get for being sick?”

To sign Mr Harris’s petition click here.