Last week was Carers Week and all the organisations for carers which support Keep Me Posted, including Carers UK and Carers Trust, have been busy raising the profile of the excellent, usually unseen and unsung work that carers provide.
There are more than 6 million carers in the UK, doing an amazing job after finding themselves in the position of caring for someone who may be older, disabled or seriously ill.
Whether your caring role comes as a surprise or whether the needs of the person you care for have changed, carers often have to pick up the household’s financial management at little notice. This is hard enough, but without a paper trail, it is nigh on impossible.
Until relatively recently someone taking on a caring role could run somebody else’s finances pretty straightforwardly, with the appropriate authorisations. Even if you were caring for someone whose filing system wasn’t up to scratch, you could gauge the state of accounts pretty clearly from the regular paperwork that companies were sending out.
But as we at Keep Me Posted know only too well, the last decade has seen a wholesale change in how service providers communicate. Banks have relentlessly advocated switching people to online accounts, often without their consent. Energy companies have lured people in with the promise of lower bills if they go paperless - even if the customer would prefer paper, who wouldn’t want to pay less?
When you’re caring for someone, the last thing you need is additional complications - or worse, the thought of having services cut off if you don’t pay the bill that you now can’t readily access. And nobody wants to be quizzing a frail or sick dependent about their passwords and service providers.
As we reflect on the end of another Carers Week surely giving people the choice to retain free paper bills and statements if they want is the least that companies can do to help.
Judith Donovan, Chair, Keep Me Posted