An Analysis Of The Treatment Of Informal Care As A Social Risk in England

  • Fiona Morgan

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisPhD


The majority of dependent older people rely on informal care to meet their long-term care needs. The activity of care-giving can place informal carers at risk of experiencing financial poverty and welfare loss, including poor health, injuries and time poverty. This thesis argues that states should recognise and treat the informal care of older people as a social risk by providing informal carers and the older people they care for with adequate statutory protection against the risks which they face. A qualitative case study was conducted to analyse the extent to which care policies in England protect informal carers and the older people they care for against care-related risks. A policy simulation technique, the model care relationship matrix, was employed as a data collection and analysis tool. The matrices incorporated thirteen care relationship types and all of the care policy mechanisms in England, including cash benefits, care services, and employment-related support. Government documents and semi-structured interviews with practitioners and managers from a range of public sector and third sector agencies were used to determine the statutory support each care relationship would be entitled to receive. The way in which institutional structures, processes and actors within the policy environment can affect the level of statutory protection provided to care relationships was also analysed.The study’s findings reveal that the English state recognises but does not treat informal care as a social risk. The state’s treatment of informal care-givers and their care-related risks is inconsistent, unpredictable and inadequate. Some informal care-givers have access to inadequate levels of statutory protection, while the risks experienced by other groups of informal carers are left unprotected and privatised. Moreover the policy environment, itself, is revealed to produce risks due to being complex, fragmented, and adversarial in nature. Overall informal carers are found to occupy a marginalised and devalued position in the English care policy system.
Date of Award2 Jul 2015
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Bath
SupervisorEmma Carmel (Supervisor) & Malcolm Johnson (Supervisor)


  • Informal Care
  • Social Risk
  • Older People
  • Care Policy
  • Policy analysis
  • Qualitative Research

Cite this