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National Carers Strategy

The development of a new strategy for carers was announced by the Secretary of State for Health on 1st July 2015. But what are our top recommendations for the Carers Strategy and when will it be published?

In developing a new strategy, the Government have stated:

We think that we need a new strategy for carers that sets out how more can be done to support them. It needs to reflect their lives now, their health and financial concerns, and give them the support they need to live well while caring for a family member or friend.

The Strategy is being led by the Department of Health, however it has a cross-Government remit. 

As part of the development of the new Strategy, the Department of Health asked carers, and organisations who work with carers, to input into a call for evidence. This closed on 31st July 2016.

There were over 6,000 submissions, around 80% of which were from carers.

What is the latest?

Carers Action Plan

Following June’s snap-election there was no commitment from the Government to respond to evidence provided by carers or publish a new Carers Strategy.

With a Conservative Manifesto commitment to a wider consultation on older people’s social care the Government had said it was keen to bring carers’ views into this wider work.

Carers UK’s Chief Executive wrote to the Department of Health and we wrote again alongside the seven other Carers Week charities arguing that a much broader set of actions was needed to address the different issues carers have which go beyond social care.

Carers UK made these points directly when we met with the Minister responsible for carers, Jackie Doyle Price, stressing the huge numbers of carers who have given up precious time to tell the Government about their priorities for change and the support that they need.

In November 2017, the Minister announced that a cross-Government action plan will be launched in the New Year to improve support for carers informed by evidence from carers. Given the recently announced longer-term consultation into the funding and provision of older people's care and a parallel process looking at the care of working age adults, the action plan will look at what can be done in the next two years to improve support for carers ahead of the outcome of social care proposals.

Carers UK welcomes the Government’s strong assurance that carers' views will be at the heart of the social care Green Paper process. This is essential if we are going to achieve a fairer balance between the huge contribution of families and that of the state.

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Carers UK’s response to the Strategy call for evidence

Carers UK submitted extensive evidence to the call for evidence based directly on carers’ experiences. This included using data and feedback from our annual State of Caring survey, Adviceline and Members Summit. Our evidence included a number of ‘key asks’ based on outcomes carers told us they want to achieve.

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Our top dozen ‘key asks’

  1. Carer’s Allowance needs to be raised significantly over the longer term and in the short term at least raised to the level of JSA – matching the pledges made in Scotland by all political parties to carers.
  2. The earnings threshold for Carer’s Allowance needs to rise year on year in line with the National Living Wage and a taper should be introduced.
  3. A new Government aim to make every workplace carer friendly.
  4. Introduction of a new right to paid care leave of between 5 to 10 days for carers in work.
  5. Increased funding for social care putting in place a sustainable funding settlement for social care and ring-fenced funding for carers’ breaks.
  6. A review of the implementation of the Care Act 2014 and the Children and Families Act 2014 in relation to carers’ assessments and support following assessments.
  7. A review of legal rights to support for those caring for disabled children under 18 with legal changes to bring rights into line with those caring for adults.
  8. A new duty on the NHS to put in place policies to identify carers and to promote their health and well-being – helping to build a carer friendly NHS.
  9. A new programme of work looking to support former carers – and support pre-and post-bereavement, including a review of benefits to give longer benefit run-ons and support with returning to work.
  10. New and earlier access to advice and information for carers and a new awareness campaign around planning for care in later life.
  11. A new programme targeted specifically at carers accrediting skills learned whilst caring.
  12. A new focus on technological solutions to make life easier for carers.

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What next?

Carers UK will work with the Department of Health and right across Government to ensure the voice of carers is heard both in the development and implementation of an action plan and in longer term work on care funding to bring the lasting changes that carers and local services need to see.

Carers UK is working with together with organisations representing older people and people with disabilities as part of the Care & Support Alliance to campaign for a social care funding to be increased so everyone has access to the care and support they need.

Read our joint response to the announcement of an action plan
Read Carers UK’s submission to the Department Health’s call for evidence

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