A leading carers charity has set out its vision of a society that respects, values and supports carers, calling on the government to develop strategies that help improve the lives of unpaid home carers.
Carers UK has carried out a comprehensive review of how the UK supports carers, now and into the future, to provide care without putting their own lives on hold and jeopardising their health and long-term financial security.
The charity has submitted extensive evidence, which they say is “rooted in the real life experiences of carers”, calling for changes to financial support and makes recommendations to build workplaces, an NHS and care services which are “carer friendly”.
The UK is reaching a “tipping point”, warns Carers UK, “where the number of people needing care will have outstripped the number of working age family members able to provide it”.
Heléna Herklots, Chief Executive of Carers UK, said: “Caring can happen to anyone at any time in their life. Over 2 million people take on a new caring role every year and many struggle to access the information and support to do so without falling out of work, struggling financially, or seeing their own health suffer.
“By 2017, the number of people needing care will have outstripped the number of working age family members able to provide it, so there has never been a more crucial time to look at what carers need now and in to the future.
“It’s vital that the Government listens to the needs and priorities of carers and takes the opportunity of the strategy to transform the support available for people providing care and those they care for. The Government must act on these insights if the Carer’s Strategy is to deliver on strengthening support for carers.
“With recent changes in Government, we urge the new Care Minister David Mowat to pick up where Alistair Burt MP left off and drive the Carer’s Strategy forward.”
Mark Brightburn who cares for his wife said: “The evidence being presented today by Carers UK collates and articulates the lived realities of carers right now, highlighting the numerous combined challenges we face day on day, week on week.
“There are significant gaps in the information and support carers need and these gaps in combination with the severe lack of co-ordination between health and care services make carers’ and our families’ lives so much harder.
“Changes are needed on the ground from local authorities to ensure the aspirations of the Care Act can be fully realised for carers and those we care for.
“I hope that the Government will listen to what carers are saying they need and that the Government involves carers as it implements the new strategy.”
Meanwhile, the Scottish Government has launched a consultation into the possibility of introducing a new ‘Young Carer’s Allowance’, as part of a wider consultation ahead of the creation of a new ‘Social Security Agency‘.
The Scottish Government will also examine the types of non-financial support currently available to young carers, in the hope of filling any support gaps it may find.