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Carers UK hails success as Bill moves towards landmark rights for carers

10 May 2013

Carers UK has welcomed the publication of the Care Bill – a landmark piece of legislation to consolidate social care law and new duties that pave the way for more modern support to help meet the needs of our changing society.

The Bill implements many of the recommendations from the Dilnot Commission on long-term care, including putting in place a cap on the amount of money individuals have to pay towards their care; and also includes increased rights for millions of unpaid carers across England.
A draft version of the Bill was published in July 2012 and was subject to scrutiny by a parliamentary committee of MPs and Peers (the Joint Committee on the Draft Care and Support Bill) and carers, older and disabled people’s organisations.

Carers UK has said that the Government has made important changes to the full Care Bill, published today (10th May 2013), which help improve families’ access to care and support services.

Carers UK had called for a boost to measures in the draft legislation to ensure that planning for care services were sufficient for disabled and older people and their families, particularly to help disabled people and carers work, train and learn.

Last year the charity supported Barbara Keeley MP to bring a Private Member’s Bill to Parliament which would have put in place this sufficiency of support duty. Although that Bill did not progress, its vision has now been accepted by the Government who have responded in the Care Bill, by placing a new requirement on local authorities to ensure there are sufficient care and support services to meet current and future needs. This would have a particular focus around work.

Heléna Herklots, Chief Executive of Carers UK, said: “'Carers UK has fought for years for care and support services to be seen as not only vital for older and disabled people, but as enablers for their families to work and live lives of their own alongside caring. Government has listened, and these new duties on councils will, for the first time, ensure that they look at and plan for services which help carers and disabled people, in particular if they wish to work. Councils will have to have regard to the level of and type of support which would be sufficient to meet current and future demand for services. This has the potential to modernise the supply of these vital services.”

“These provisions are vital if we are to “age proof” our society. With a growing ageing population more people will be taking on caring responsibilities and juggling care with work. We need a modern and flexible care system to meet these challenges faced increasingly by families. The new provisions in the Bill set out the framework for that to happen. Without these services, family members are unable to stay in work – something which costs the economy up to £5bn every year.”

Carers UK had also called for a number of other important changes to the draft legislation which have been implemented in the Care Bill. The legislation now makes clear that new duties on promoting wellbeing will apply not just to older and disabled people, but also to their carers.The charity had also expressed concerns that the draft legislation could mean that carers could be charged for services provided to the person they care for, and has pledged to work with the Government to clarify this as the Care Bill is debated in Parliament. Carers UK has also urged the Government to ensure that improvements to carers’ rights included in the Bill are extended to all carers and that funding is put in place to ensure that new duties to support families can be delivered.

Carers UK has said that, in responding to the Joint Committee’s recommendations, the Government must address the problem that parents of disabled children will not have their rights to assessment and support enhanced by the Bill and will be left with lesser rights than other carers. The charity has urged the Department of Health to urgently work with the Department for Education to make sure this is rectified through the Children and Families Bill going through Parliament.

Heléna Herklots said: “This Bill marks a further and significant step forward in the rights of families who care for older or disabled loved ones; improving access to an assessment of carers’ own needs and new duties to support families who care. To make these rights a reality for families, in addition to ensuring that all carers have equal rights, whether they are caring for a parent with dementia or a disabled child, Government must also take action on the chronic underfunding of social care services.”

“The Bill needs a robust funding settlement which enables the Government to realise the vision that is set out in this landmark legislation. Without this kind of investment, the new legislation will fall short of its potential, leaving many families struggling without the right support and giving up work to care.”

-ENDS-

Notes for Editors:

1.Carers UK is a charity set up to support the millions of people who care for an older relative, a sick partner or a disabled family member. Carers UK:supports carers and provides information and advice about caring
influences policy through our research base
campaigns to make life better for carers
2.The Social Care (Local Sufficiency) and Identification of Carers Bill is a Private Members Bill drafted by Carers UK with the support of Professor Luke Clements and introduced by Barbara KeeleyIt did not progress through all of its stages to become law and the Minister, during debate, pledged to consider the sufficiency of supply measures for this piece of legislation.

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