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New care laws 'leaving behind' parents of disabled children

20 November 2013

House of Lords debates amendment to give parent carers equal rights to carers of disabled adults and older people

Carers UK has warned parents of disabled children will be treated as ‘second class’ unless the Government amends laws currently being debated in Parliament.

The Government’s Care Bill will enhance the rights of adult carers caring for disabled adults and older people. In a victory for campaigners, led by the National Young Carers Coalition, the Government has already conceded that young carers will share these rights by making amendments to children’s legislation (the Children and Families Bill).

But Carers UK says that Ministers have failed to recognise parents of disabled children, who have been left out of both pieces of legislation.

The charity argues that inaction will leave ‘parent carers’ as the only group of carers with inferior rights – despite strong evidence that parents of disabled children get less support than carers of older parents or disabled adults.

The charity has published new figures showing that, whilst a third (32%) of all full-time carers go without any practical support this rises to almost half (47%) of carers caring full-time for disabled children under 18[1].

Carers UK’s Chief Executive, Heléna Herklots said: “Too often, parents of disabled children are denied help with round the clock caring responsibilities for seriously ill or disabled children because their role as carers as well as parents is not recognised.

Successive governments have recognised in law that the needs of carers of disabled children are different from other parents – with existing legislation giving all carers, caring for disabled children or adults, equal rights to support.

Failure to include parents of disabled children in strengthened rights to assessment and support is a big backward step for carers’ rights and threatens to leave those caring for some of the most vulnerable in society without support.”

The Care Bill, currently before Parliament represents a major reform of social care law including the law on carers’ rights.  Under the Bill it will be easier for many caring for loved ones to get an assessment of their needs as carers and access support.  At the same time the Children and Families Bill will deliver the same new rights for young carers.

During a debate today (20thNovember) on the Children and Families Bill, peers, led by Carers UK’s Vice-President, Baroness Pitkeathley, will warn of the serious consequences of inaction for parent carers whose existing rights are at risk of being ignored while other carers have their rights enhanced.

Heléna Herklots added: “There are an estimated 800,000 carers caring for disabled children – often pushed into poor health, forced to quit work and at risk of social exclusion as a result of a lack of support. If the law sends out the message that parents carers are second class then this may make their struggles to access support with caring even harder. Time is running out to make the changes needed to ensure that parent carers aren’t left behind.”

[1] From a Carers UK survey of over 3,500 carers including 518 full-time parent carers of disabled children. 

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