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A carers' manifesto

With a snap general election called, Carers UK have five top priorities that carers might want to see from a future Government. These are based on years of evidence, consultation and involvement with carers.

The UK’s 6.5 million unpaid carers provide the majority of care for families, but pressure on our health and care system, insufficient financial support and lack of rights in the workplace are putting an unsustainable strain on us.

Our vision is of a society that values, respects and supports carers. The time has come for a new social contract between carers, public services, employers, and wider society to achieve this vision.

"I am constantly on edge waiting for ‘that’ phone call or ‘that’ letter in the post or the debit card declined at the supermarket checkout."

Carers cannot go on living like this. And although some of these decisions are devolved to nations, carers across the UK have the same message - we need:

  • Financial security
  • Care services that are there when we need them
  • An NHS that supports us
  • To be able to combine work and care if we choose to
  • To have the information and advice to prepare and make choices about caring.

We want all political parties to commit to:

To ensure that carers and our families do not suffer financial hardship as a result of caring:

Carer’s Allowance is the lowest benefit of its kind, at just £62.70 a week. We hear from carers having to cut back on essentials like food or heating just to make ends meet. The huge value of unpaid care needs to be recognised.

  • Carer’s Allowance needs to be raised significantly over the longer term and in the short term at least raised to the level of Job Seeker’s Allowance (an increase of £10 per week) with equivalent increases to carer premia to ensure that those on the lowest incomes benefit from an increase.
  • The earnings threshold for Carer’s Allowance needs to rise year on year in line with the National Living Wage pegged at least to the equivalent of 16 hours a week. A taper should also be introduced.
  • To auto-enrol carers in a second pension – a Carer’s Pension that recognises the value of unpaid work and ensures that carers do not suffer financial hardship later in life.

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To ensure that there is sufficient funding so that older and disabled people get the care we need and which is affordable:

Our research with carers found that 1 in 5 of those caring round the clock receive no practical support with caring and 61% said they are at ‘breaking point’, struggling to cope without the support they need.

  • An urgent new, sustainably funded settlement for social care and the NHS to make legal rights to support a reality and ensure that services are there when carers need them. This must include housing fit for caring and technology that supports caring.
  • Good quality, reliable and affordable care services are needed to support the role of carers and ensure we get the breaks we need to care without putting our lives on hold and our health in danger.

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To ensure carers are able to juggle work and care, returning to work if we wish:

3 million people, 1 in 9 of the workforce, combine caring for a loved one with paid work, however many carers are forced to give up their jobs to care due to a lack of rights, flexibility and high quality care services at home.

  • Introduce a new right to paid care leave in the workplace of between 5 to 10 days for carers in work.
  • Support for carers and former carers who wish to stay in or return to work.
  • Recognition that good quality, reliable and affordable care services are needed to enable us to juggle work and care.

Being a carer is essentially an unpaid nurse, Secretary, cook, cleaner, psychiatrist and therapist all in one. Carers seem to be used and taken advantage of by the system, as the majority of carers do it through love as they are family.


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To create a more ‘Carer Friendly’ NHS:

Full-time carers are more than twice as likely to be in bad health as non-carers. Despite our contribution, carers can struggle for recognition and support from health professionals.

  • A new duty for the NHS to put in place policies to identify carers and to promote our health and well-being – helping to build a carer friendly NHS.

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We are all better prepared for caring and can get support early to look after our own health and wellbeing:

For many people, looking after an ill, older or disabled loved one doesn’t have a name, it is ‘just something you do’. However, not recognising you are carrying out a caring role can be a real barrier to accessing vital support.

  • Easily available advice and information for carers to help us plan, prepare and provide for care.

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