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Who cares for the carers? An analysis of the rights and remedies of informal carers under English law and an account of how these might be extended by original legislation

Johnson, I. F. (2021) Who cares for the carers? An analysis of the rights and remedies of informal carers under English law and an account of how these might be extended by original legislation. PhD thesis, University of Reading

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To link to this item DOI: 10.48683/1926.00101510


Human longevity in England and Wales has increased markedly in the past 50 years. But this increase has come at some very significant financial and social cost. More and more of us are having to care for our elderly parents ourselves. Careers are either put on hold or lost altogether; family incomes are much reduced; and, leisure time is lost, never to be recovered. All this care is administered without any legal entitlement to any compensation or reward. Given that the need for informal social care will rise yet further in the next few decades as the ‘baby boomer’ generation moves into old age, what can be done for this legion of family carers who hold our social care system together? Many writers have attempted to highlight this growing problem, but few, if any, have produced any viable solutions to what is an impending social crisis. This thesis investigates how English law might respond to ‘the longevity conundrum’. Through the concerted analysis of existing material, it explores, but ultimately discards, the proposal that informal carers should have the right to apply for financial provision under existing family provision legislation. It, similarly, refutes claims that informal carers might have a remedy under the law relating to unjust enrichment or through the imposition of a constructive trust on the care-receiver’s estate. Instead, it proposes – and seeks to justify – a legislative solution in the form of a mediated ‘family care contract’. Such a contract would not be a mere private affair. In practice, state funding for informal carers would need to underpin these arrangements, but, ultimately, that funding could be recovered from the private property (principally, housing) wealth that is a feature of our modern society, and the thesis then proposes how this might be done. At this point, research was undertaken through the use of semi-structured interviews to ascertain whether this process might find support from informal or ‘family’ carers. Although that research revealed an almost universal desire for change to our existing social care system for the elderly, there was little consensus over how such reforms should be funded and less what these reforms might look like. Some reflection was undertaken and comparisons were draw with certain other countries who had successfully introduced such reforms before it was concluded that public support for such reforms is unnecessary given that elsewhere these reforms have been driven by the ruling elite.

Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Thesis Supervisor:Auchmuty, R.
Thesis/Report Department:School of Law
Identification Number/DOI:
Divisions:Arts, Humanities and Social Science > School of Law
ID Code:101510
Date on Title Page:October 2018


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