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Letter to the Editor: Response to the Last Editorial

Letter to the Editor Response to Last Edition’s Editorial Dear Editor, Thank you very much for your Christian charity and spirited editorial, Friday 8th October 2021, ( E.C. No.8090).  Also thanks are due to you for reprinting so much excellent reformed evangelical...

Letter to the Editor: The Murder of Sir David Amess

Murder of Sir David Amess Dear Editor, I grieve at the loss of a friend and former Party colleague Sir David Amess, MP who was murdered in an increasingly dangerous world. In the 70s I worked with David in the Young Conservatives before he became an MP and he was...

Reformation Sunday Advert

LETTER TO THE EDITOR:                        15 October 2021. My ‘Advert’ titled “Reformation Sunday 31 October” said, “The Church of England should still celebrate this 500th year since Martin Luther declared at the ‘Diet of Worms’ in 1521, “Here I stand. God help...

Leicester Diocese Illogical

Letter to the Editor Leicester Diocese Illogical   Sir, Leicester Diocese’s decision on 9 October to replace its traditional Parishes with ‘Minsters' is both spiritually and financially illogical.  The Church of England’s own growth report ‘From Anecdote to...

Barnabas Fund Reports: Turkey Escalates Airstrikes Against Christians in Syria & Iraq

Barnabas Fund Reports Turkey Escalating Airstrikes Against Christians and other Minorities in Syria and Iraq Turkey has escalated a supposedly anti-terrorist military campaign in Syria and Iraq which appears to be targeting Christians and other minorities. A spate of...

Should I Stay or Should I Go? Gospel-Driven Anglicanism Part 4

Should I Stay or Should I Go? By the Revd Dr Mark Pickles Part 4 Gedaliah is appointed governor and we read that Jeremiah purposely chooses to live amongst “those of the poorest of the land who had not been taken into exile in Babylon” (40:7). Things have taken a turn...

466th Anniversary of the Martyrdoms of Latimer & Ridley

466th Anniversary of the Martyrdoms of Latimer & Ridley Saturday, 16 October marked the 466th anniversary of the martyrdoms of Bishops Hugh Latimer and Nicholas Ridley.   They were burned at the stake after being found guilty of heresy due to their refusal to...

Clive West Memorial Trust Lecture: John Yates III to Speak

Clive West Memorial Trust Lecture  Revd Dr John Yates III to Speak The annual Clive West Memorial Lecture will be held on Thursday, 11 November at 19:30 at St Nicholas’ Church, Lisburn Road in Belfast.  This year’s speaker is the Revd Dr John Yates III, Rector of Holy...

Book Review: Bleeding for Jesus

Bleeding for Jesus John Smyth and the cult of the Iwerne Camps Andrew Graystone Darton, Longman and Todd, 2021 (ISBN: 9781913657123, 250pp, £12.99) This book is the latest instalment of a long-running tragedy. It comes six years after the author was first made aware...

School Pupils Across the Country Memorise Passages from BCP for £1,000 Prize

School Pupils Across the Country  Memorise Book of Common Prayer Passages  £1,000 Prize for Winner By Tim Stanley Hundreds of school pupils across the country are busy this term studying prayers and readings from the 1662 Book of Common Prayer in a bid to win a prize...

Prudence Dailey Commentary: Care of the Elderly is a Family Responsibility

Prudence Dailey Commentary

Care of the Elderly is a Family Responsibility

Once again, the question of how to fund residential care for the elderly has been in the news, with the Government suggesting that it might be paid for by an increase in the rate of National Insurance. These proposals have received a certain amount of criticism from those, including the Archbishop of Canterbury (speaking on Radio 4’s Today programme), who argue that it would be unfair to place additional financial burdens on the already hard-pressed young to pay for the needs of the elderly.

The Archbishop makes a fair point; but there is nothing distinctively Christian in his perspective. The same observations could be—and indeed have been—made by many secular commentators. Leaders of the Church might also find an opportunity to reflect on the social shifts that contribute to the difficulties in which our society finds itself when it comes to looking after those no longer able to look after themselves.

Traditional societies, by and large, do not have this problem. Just as parents take care of their own children, grown-up children take care of their elderly parents, who live with them in extended families: the same pattern is commonly seen in Britain today among Asian communities especially. 

Of course, there are many practical reasons why it may not always be desirable or even possible for elderly people to be cared for by their families at home: they might have medical or personal care needs which cannot be properly met by family members; they might require 24-hour care, while their children still have to go out to work; or the family home may not be physically suitable to accommodate them. In addition, there are increasing numbers of people (the present writer included) who do not have children to look after them in their declining years; while in other cases, family members simply do not get along. Furthermore, divorce and family breakup, and subsequent remarriage—subjects on which the Church is strangely reticent to speak—can make things more difficult.

The fact remains, though, that the traditional model of family care tells us something about the natural order of things, and where primary responsibility lies. Sometimes, we hear that unpaid family carers ‘save the government’ £x billion a year—but conceptually, this is entirely the wrong way round. It is never suggested that parents are saving the government money by looking after their own children, because it is automatically understood that childcare is a parental obligation—even though there will always be cases where it is not, in fact, possible for the parents to discharge it.

It is right and proper that people who have worked and saved all their lives to purchase a home, and perhaps to acquire other savings, might hope to bequeath their assets to their loved ones after they die. Understandably, therefore, neither the would-be legator nor the intended beneficiary wants to see the value of those assets whittled away to pay for care—but unless family members are able to provide that care directly themselves, somebody has to pay for it.

In cases where assets are insufficient, there seems little alternative to this cost being met by the state—which, as life expectancy continues to rise, will be an increasing drain on the Treasury. Nevertheless, once it is accepted that the ultimate responsibility for the care of the elderly lies with their families, any potential adverse effect on inheritance seems less like a problem to be solved, and more like an inevitable consequence of the human condition.

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