Malcolm Wicks was one of the most important figures in the history of our organisation, and the carers movement, and we were very proud to have him as a Vice-President.
Against all odds, Malcolm took through the first ever fully concrete rights for carers in the Carers (Recognition and Services) Act 1995, drafted by Carers UK and Professor Luke Clements. For the very first time it gave carers rights to an assessment of their own needs and in doing so turned them from being 'invisible' to giving them enforceable rights in law. The legislation broke all the rules, giving rights not just to adults caring for other adults but to parents of disabled children and young carers - something that continues to be relevant today as we look at new draft social care legislation.
Malcolm's Carers (Recognition and Services) Act 1995 was an historic victory for carers. For the very first time local authorities had a statutory imperative to focus on them. Before this Act, carers had to rely on enlightened individuals within organisations for support. As we look back today it is unthinkable that carers would not have the right to an assessment of their own needs, but back then in 1994/5 it was a hard battle to win. Hundreds of thousands of carers have since had assessments, a gateway to much-needed help and support - all thanks to Malcolm and his legislation.
Even before coming into Parliament, Malcolm had already made his mark for the carers movement, breaking new ground and understanding the real challenges that carers faced. As Director of the Family Policy Studies Centre, he did the very first work which looked at how much carers save the state and put a figure on the huge contribution that carers make to society. Back then, the figure was £34 billion and today it stands at £119 billion a year.
Malcolm continued to support carers as a backbencher, co-sponsoring and supporting two successful Private Members Bills with Lord Pendry and Dr Hywel Francis MP. As a Work and Pensions Select Committee member, he never failed to raise carers' issues when it was relevant to an inquiry. As a Pensions Minister he asked for analysis on how the pensions system could be improved for those carers who had broken pensions records and in doing so he paved the way for later changes which would revolutionise carers' pension entitlements.
Malcolm was witty, compassionate, a very clear thinker and eloquent on issues that really mattered. We are incredibly proud to have worked with him and will miss him greatly. We have lost a great friend of carers and of Carers UK. On behalf of Carers UK and the six million carers throughout the UK, we would like to thank Malcolm for everything that he did for carers.
Malcolm's son has requested that anyone wishing to make a donation in memory of his father can do so here.