What are the four words which cost your council the most money? They are "I can't cope anymore". The moment when family carers can no longer deal with the stresses and strains of caring for a loved relative, who for whatever reason needs help. This morning it was revealed that autism costs the country more than cancer or heart disease - http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-27742716http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-27742716 - which given the lifelong nature of the disease is not surprising. Parents with autistic children are suddenly faced with a completely redefined life. Unlike the rest of us, they have no prospect of the day when little Johnny leaves home and they can stop worrying about them. They have a job for life. The same is true of any parent of a child with Downs syndrome and a whole host of other issues. When we are young it isn't so bad, but as the clock ticks and we get older, this becomes increasingly more difficult. Even younger people with elderly relatives with dementia are under severe stress.
What is not recognised is how much these parents are saving the rest of us. People such as Barnet Eye guest bloggers John Sullivan and Linda Edwards have saved the taxpayer billions every year, simply by caring for their children. You may well say "so what?". The sad truth is that cuts to the support services for such people is the worst example of false economy. Sooner or later the stresses of supporting a dependent disabled relative can become too much. What happens then? Depression, stress related illness and sadly on occasion suicide can ensure. At this point, the state is left to pick up the pieces and what was a relatively cheal person on terms of your taxbill, becomes a very expensive person (quite apart from the sheer human misery).
So how do we prevent people becoming overwhelmed? Well David Cameron talked about "Big Society" where we all pitch in and help. The likes of John and Linda are shining examples of this, taking on an extraordinary burden. Linda got an MBE for setting up acharity for autistic people in Barnet, but has been sh*t on from a great height by the Barnet Council for many a year.
Each person in Barnet with special needs is an individual, with their own needs and feelings. They have just as much right to a decent life as anyone else, however this takes more from the rest of us to provide. Leaving carers in the lurch, cutting respite, day centre care and back up services is the most stupid way of cost saving, as it just brings forward the day they say "sorry, I can't do this anymore". What David Cameron never said about big society was that the state is the centre of this. The state has to provide a safety net.
There is of course a different way of dealing with the problem. One which takes all of the costs away. The NAZI's did this in the 1930's where they simply murdered all of the disabled people they could find. When they finished with the disabled, they started on all of the other social groupings they disliked and we all know where that ended up. I for one totally reject such a sick ideology, that places no value on humanity. The sad truth is that you can't have it both ways. You either have to have a society that values all of us, whatever our situation or you walk down the sick path of darkness that starts to classify us by our value to society. If we are a truly big society, we should make sure that our politicians make sure that family carers have what they need to do the job, and not get overwhelmed. Anything else is a step on the road down a very dark path.
Sadly in Your Choice Barnet, we have a system of rationing of care, where all decisions are taken by bean counters. This means many people's quality of life is being ruined and many carers are under stress. That is why people such as John and Linda have written such passionate blogs. You may not care, but whatever you think, in the long run, these cuts will actually cost you far more, as carers can no longer cope and the disabled are driven to despair and depression, all of which require expensive intervention. Sadly I worry that as these costs mount, the bile of the far right may well turn away from immigrants, to those who add a few pennies to the tax bill. This is not without precedent in living memory.