On Saturday 31st October the Prime Minister announced that there would be a second national lockdown in England starting on Thursday 5th November, after Parliament had debated the specific measures.
Responding, Helen Walker, Chief Executive of Carers UK, said:
“Ahead of Parliament voting and deciding on a national lockdown in England, we are calling upon Government to act to ensure that unpaid carers have the support they need to care without their health, wellbeing and finances continuing to be put at risk.
“Before the pandemic, carers were providing substantial care with many going without breaks. Since the start of the pandemic this situation has got considerably worse, with two thirds of carers fearful of another lockdown - which is now coming on Thursday.
“81% of carers are still providing more care than before the lockdown; 64% said it had impacted negatively on their wellbeing. Three quarters (74%) reported feeling exhausted and worn out. Many services have not returned for carers, and we’re worried now that the small amounts of progress we’ve seen in opening up services to help them will slip backwards. This cannot happen. Two thirds have not had a break since the pandemic started and are now extremely worried about breaking down. Continuing to run services must be a priority - it’s central to carers’ ability to manage over winter.
“As well as this, the financial hardship experienced by many carers has to be tackled immediately. It is simply unacceptable that carers in receipt of Carer’s Allowance, worth only £67.25 per week, have not seen any additional payments in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
“Carers’ health, wellbeing and work is at stake here. Government must ensure that everything we learned during the first lockdown is put swiftly into practice and it must do more. Government needs to give back to carers who are contributing so much.”
Carers UK is calling for nine key measures to support carers in lockdown:
- Clear tailored guidance for carers during lockdown, including the support available if someone is deemed to be clinically vulnerable for caring for someone in this group.
- Clarity around exemptions allowing caring for vulnerable people, so that caring can continue and families are able to get beaks. Provisions to allow people needing care and carers to get breaks and respite.
- Continued opening up of care services – finding solutions so that carers are able to get support and get a break
- Visiting in care homes
- Volunteer support for carers to be reboosted
- A boosted payment for carers in receipt of Carer’s allowance and associated means-tested benefits such as Carer Addition and Carer Premium – making sure they don’t lose out due to additional costs during COVID-19
- Clarifying continued furlough arrangements for carers and continued support from employers
- Unpaid carers must get the PPE they need to care
- Ensuring carers have a form of ID e.g. Carer Passport, Carer Emergency Card, a letter from the local authority/carers’ organisation