"Lord Morris of Manchester, who died yesterday was an utterly committed and totally determined campaigner who fought for and secured many vital rights for disabled people and carers. Alf holds a particularly important place in the history of the carers' movement and Carers UK and never shied away from challenging anyone who stood in the way of a better life for disabled people and carers.
Two particular achievements by Alf that really stand out in Carers UK's history. The first was the opportunity to take through a piece of Private Members legislation giving disabled people the first concrete rights to services and support. His Chronically Sick and Disabled Persons Act 1970 remains today one of the cornerstones of rights for disabled people and is important now as it was then - cited in numerous challenges when support for disabled people falls woefully short of what it should be. That groundbreaking Act simply set out rights which formed the principle that disabled people are equal citizens and have a right to an equal life - and need the services to be able to do so - just like everyone else. His Act is quoted in all three pieces of carers' legislation: The Carers (Recognition and Services) Act 1995, the Carers and Disabled Children Act 2000 and the Carers (Equal Opportunities) Act 2004.
Alf gave carers the first real recognition that they'd ever really had
Carers UK worked with him from the very beginning of his parliamentary career. When he was Minister at the DHSS, as the Minister for Disabled People, he persuaded Barbara Castle, another Minister to introduce Carer's Allowance (known then as Invalid Care Allowance) - in 1975. It was the first benefit of its kind to recognise that carers often gave up work to care for relatives leading to a life of poverty and dependence.
As a result, he gave many the first ever independent income as carers. Because Carer's Allowance rises in line with inflation and not with earnings, the value of it has fallen relative to average earnings over the years. And although Carer's Allowance remains a woefully small amount, the lowest benefit of its kind, Alf Morris, in that instance gave carers the first real recognition that they'd ever really had and was rightfully theirs - that Government should value what they do.
Alf has always supported carers and Carers UK. He has supported all our attempts to improve carers' rights, has spoken up numerous times in the House of Commons and House of Lords. Millions of carers throughout the years have benefited from his achievements and his quest for equality for disabled people and carers.
Although we have lost a fantastic campaigner for disabled people and carers, he leaves us with the building blocks of rights and entitlements for carers that we continue to try to build on. Our thanks go to a man who devoted many of his 84 years campaigning for a better life for many people.