The cross party Communities and Local Government Committee has made several significant recommendations on increasing support for families and friends providing unpaid care as part of its report on adult social care. Comment from Responding to the report, Heléna Herklots CBE, Chief Executive at Carers UK.
The Committee’s recommendations on carers include: Extra funding is needed to enable councils to fulfil their duties to assess and support carers and, in so doing, maintain their health and well-being, participation in education and employment and ability to continue caring. Consideration of whether carers’ leave might be a basis for giving carers dedicated employment rights. Carer’s Allowance should be increased to reflect the increasing contribution that carers make to the social care system. In addition, the earnings limit should be higher and more flexible to enable carers to maintain some contact with the labour market.
Responding to the report, Heléna Herklots CBE, Chief Executive at Carers UK, said: “We welcome the Committee’s recognition of the huge role that the UK’s 6.5 million unpaid carers play in caring for older and disabled loved ones. The Committee rightly highlights the increasing strain placed on families and friends by the current crisis in social care funding and we are pleased to see significant specific recommendations on the Government to increase support available to carers in addition to the Committee’s important messages on the need for an agreement on long-term funding reform.
Adult social care is heavily reliant on unpaid carers to provide care and support but this is having a detrimental effect on carers’ own health and finances – having a limited or no capacity to work alongside caring means thousands of carers are living in financial hardship. Carers UK warmly welcomes the Committee’s call for greater financial support for carers through an increase in Carer’s Allowance, which at only £62.10 per week is the lowest benefit of its kind, and for greater flexibility to enable carers to stay in touch with the labour market without losing this support.
We have consistently warned that without increased funding the Government will continue to fail to deliver on the promise of much heralded new rights for carers in the Care Act. Today’s recommendation for increased funding to meet Care Act duties reflects this.
The majority of those providing care are of working age and over 2 million people have already given up work to care. As we reach the tipping point where the numbers of people needing care will outstrip the numbers of working age people available to provide care; our workplace rights need to reflect the new realities of work and care. The Committee’s recommendation for a statutory right to paid time of work to care would help many carers that wish to, to juggle work with care.”