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On Monday 4th January 2021 the Prime Minister announced that there would be a third national lockdown in England starting on Wednesday 6th January. The regulations allow unpaid carers to continue providing essential care. A family member or friend can also do this to provide respite care for someone who is caring.

The Prime Minister also advised people who are clinically extremely vulnerable to start shielding again.

Responding, Helen Walker, Chief Executive of Carers UK, said:

“After 10 months of caring around the clock for loved ones without any breaks and significantly limited support, going into another national lockdown will have left unpaid carers despairing.

“Before the pandemic, many carers were providing substantial care without breaks. During the pandemic this situation has got considerably worse, with three quarters telling Carers UK they feel worn out and exhausted. With day services reducing their service or closing altogether, and without access to their usual support from family and friends, unpaid carers have had to pick up the slack. They are seriously worried about breaking down. Continuing to run services must be a priority - it’s central to carers’ ability to manage over winter.

“Following the Government’s advice for people who are clinically vulnerable to shield, some carers will be making the decision to shield too alongside the person they care for. The Government must support those shielding and their carers, ensuring they can access food and medicines and the furlough scheme is in place so they do not lose out financially.

“Carer’s Allowance, just £67.25 a week for 35 hours or more of care, must be increased by £20 a week to help carers manage both the higher costs of caring during this winter lockdown and the lack of services available to help them stay in work.

“The roll-out of the vaccine programme will give carers a glimmer of hope. Whilst it’s very good news that carers are clearly included in Priority Group 6 of the JCVI priority list, it will be a long time before the risk of infection reduces significantly, services are reinstated and carers are able to rely on the support they had pre-pandemic.

“Carers’ livelihoods are at stake here. Government must ensure that everything we learned during the first two lockdowns is put swiftly into practice and give back to carers who are contributing so much.”

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