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Issue Date:-22 September 2008


A dementia care and support pioneer says that the government has missed the boat spectacularly in its "dabbling and pathetic" response to the needs of family and home carers in the UK.

Dan Lingard, Chief Executive of Melton Heath Care Limited, which owns the innovative Birch Abbey care centre in Southport, says that the government's reaction to the Commons Work and Pensions Committee report into the plight of the country's 6 million unpaid carers who don't want to use professional care services such as home carers and care homes is another illustration of how out-of-touch ministers are.

The committee says that state help for carers is now of critical importance.

"It is not just critical, it is massively urgent.  On the one hand the government is telling us that we are in some quarters enjoying better health and longevity than ever before, but they are simply not grasping the nettle and moving fast enough to address the issues that come with living longer.  The longer we live, the more likely we are to fall into ill-health and to start to be affected by conditions such as dementia.  Somebody has to help the growing population of people with dementia, and while some families' circumstances allow them to bring in professional support offered by organisations such as ours, there are many families whose circumstances do not permit such input and support, or, in fact, have decided they don't want to use 'professional' carers at home or from a care home.

The committee said that it was disappointed that the government had not addressed the issue of financial help for carers in its Carers Strategy, which was launched earlier this year, and it has hit the nail on the head with regard to the key issue.  As somebody who is frontline in supporting people with dementia - and their families - I can only say that the government is doing what it has typically done for this much misunderstood and undervalued group of people: it has nibbled round the edges, dabbled, put off a decision and provided a pathetic response.

My team are professional carers and supporters of people with dementia and their families; at a professional level it is challenging - and in witnessing the challenges facing families on a daily basis I can provide cast-iron assurances that the efforts and commitment of family carers is absolutely immense.  In effect many give up a great deal of their lives to care for loved ones with dementia.  Financial support for carers should be an immediate priority, not something that has been put on the backburner in the Carers Strategy until 2011."
said Dan Lingard.

Dan Lingard, Chief Executive of Altrincham-based Melton Health Care Limited, which owns Birch Abbey care home in Southport, is a former software developer working with IBM and the BBC.  He says much-misunderstood dementia needs to be fought, and people with the condition, and their family and friends, supported and inspired rather than simply have their basic needs attended to.  Dan and his team at Birch Abbey invented and pioneered a specialist monitoring system to support people with dementia, MyAmego (,  an award-winning world first, which is now being installed in care homes and day centres, "extra care" flats and for use at home.

Households in fuel postcode lottery

HOUSEHOLDS in the South East are spending over £100 more on fuel bills than those in some other UK regions according to  As energy firms announce further price increases, research for the price comparison website, which runs the leading energy switching service, reveals that households in the South East pay an average of £955 annually on gas and electricity.  Those in the North East pay the least at £851 annually, with London residents spending £888 on a yearly basis.

The research also reveals a marked disparity in the percentage of total household expenditure allocated to fuel costs across the regions.  Despite having the lowest annual expenditure on gas and electricity of any UK region, those in the North East are, on average, having to allocate over 4.2% of their total household budgets to energy bills.  Households in London, whilst having a relatively low expenditure on gas and electricity are on average having to allocate it less than 3% of total household expenditure.

Sean Gardner, Director,, said:- “We’d expect some regional variance in the amount people spend on gas and electricity, but a 12% gap between the highest and the lowest spending regions is very large indeed.  Clearly households in some areas have reacted more quickly to spiralling fuel costs but it’s a worry that some households are having to spend considerably more of their overall expenditure on fuel than others.  With further price rises expected before Christmas fuel poverty looks an ever closer prospect for many.”

Region Annual expenditure on gas and electricity Expenditure on gas and electricity as % of total household expenditure
North East £851.07 4.28%
North West £937.41 4.02%
Yorks / Humberside £900.41 3.84%
East Midlands £881.91 3.64%
West Midlands £937.41 4.11%
East £875.74 3.25%
London £888.08 2.98%
South East £955.92 3.38%
South West £863.41 3.50%

Sean Gardner continued:- “Though energy price rises have struck across the board there are still savings to be made, with many consumers able to save over £300 simply by switching provider.” offers a unique service which enables people to find the financial products which best meet their specific needs, and which they are more likely to be successful in being accepted for.  It includes exclusive research conducted by MORI, which reveals providers’ service levels.  This information is married up with a financial database which lists the products suited to the customer.  For the 1st time, people can review a product’s price, features and also the level of service offered by the provider to enable them to make a more informed choice. aims to demystify the complex world of personal finance, and to help inform customers of the choices available.  The service can be found at

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