The Labour Party has pledged to give carers the legal right to two weeks emergency leave from work, the Shadow Minister for Care and Older People has revealed.
MP Liz Kendall said a future Labour government would “champion family carers” and believes that her plan will help carers remain in jobs they may otherwise have to give up.
The majority of carers in the UK are women in their 50s and 60s.
Under current rules carers are permitted to a short time away from work in emergencies. In reality this is no more than a few days. Ms Kendall believes that this does not provide sufficient enough time to arrange alternative arrangements for the care of a family member.
According to statistics, one in three carers are forced to cut their hours or give up working entirely to care for sick, elderly or disabled relatives, costing the UK economy £1.3 billion a year in lost tax revenue.
Critics of Labour’s plan argue that this figure is dwarfed by the substantial savings family carers provide to local authorities and other services, whom may otherwise be forced into providing a greater level of home care at additional cost to taxpayers.
These savings are estimated from anywhere between £37.6bn a year to £119bn and are based upon out-of-date population census figures from 2001.
Whatever the true amount, it is safe to presume that family carers save the UK far more than what is lost in income tax revenue.
Some family carers, and others, argue that they should be paid an actual ‘wage’ or salary for the crucial service they provide society, or at least more than the current level of Carers Allowance (£61.35 per week).
They claim that this would help carers afford to pay someone to take care of their caring duties while they go out to work, or stay at home to look after their loved-ones themselves.
Liz Kendall is to outline her proposal at the TUC congress in Liverpool. It’s thought that the pledge will be included in Labour’s 2015 general election manifesto.