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Carers UK reaction to the Queen's speech

07 November 2007

Carers UK reaction to Queens Speech 2007

Health and Social Care Bill

Carers UK welcomes the plans for a single health and social care regulator which will provide greater consistently and should encourage more joint working between the two services. However we must make sure that the Care Quality Commission retains the valuable expertise that the Commission for Social Care Inspection (CSCI) has built up on carers' issues and on social care more broadly. CSCI has played an important role in providing information to the public, as well as championing social care as a sector.

In terms of its remit and function, the new body must help drive the personalisation of services. Patients, services users and carers need better information and support, for example advocacy services and support for those using direct payments.

The creation of the CQC must go hand in hand with a greater focus on helping families to combine work and care. Currently, the 4 million working age carers are being failed by the system. Evidence from Carers UK's recent 'Employment, Carers and Services' research, carried out by the University of Leeds, shows that over 40 per cent of those caring full time and not in work say that they cannot return to employment because of the lack of services available.

Pensions Bill

Carers UK welcomes the introduction of Personal Accounts. Many carers work part-time and in low paid jobs and are therefore likely to benefit from the introduction of a low cost scheme and compulsory employer contributions.

We need to make sure that Personal Accounts are sufficiently flexible for those moving in and out of work, and must also look at the periods when carers are outside of the labour market. The Bill must also make sure that those carers who only manage to build up a small amount of savings do not lose out.

We must also see this policy in the wider context of welfare reform. Further measures are needed to ensure that carers have adequate support to undertake paid work so that they are in a position to save for a pension in the first place.

Equality Bill

Carers UK notes that the Government's manifesto commitment to introduce a Single Equality Bill in this Parliament will not be taken forward during this session. This is welcomed, since it will give the Government adequate time to engage stakeholders and draft a Bill which can deliver the vision of a more equal society.

Carers UK was disappointed with the Government's White Paper 'A framework for fairness' as it did not recommend measures to protect carers from discrimination. We believe this would be a serious oversight at a time when more people will become carers because of the impact of demographic change. Carers UK is calling for a duty on public bodies to promote equality between those with caring responsibilities and those without, as already exists in Northern Ireland, along with protection against discrimination in employment and the provision of goods and services to be extended to carers. This would help end the current situation where those providing this vital role in society – worth £87bn in economic terms – suffer poverty, ill health and reduced life chances as a result of their caring responsibility.

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