A report published today by the House of Lords Adult Social Care Committee, which was appointed to deliberate the planning for and delivery of adult social care services in England, calls on the government for an urgent reform in adult social care.
Carers UK was pleased to provide extensive evidence to the Committee from Carers UK and from Employers for Carers; and facilitated our members with lived experience to share their expertise as unpaid carers with the Committee with oral evidence.
Carers UK alongside other charities in the sector has been campaigning for improved adult social care and strongly welcome the Committee’s focus on the important role of unpaid carers. The charity is calling on the Government to implement these recommendations to improve the lives of unpaid carers.
Helen Walker, Chief Executive of Carers UK, said:
“Unpaid carers are grappling with unprecedented challenges at present, often with little or no support. As winter really starts to bite, 13,000 people and families providing unpaid care to disabled, older or ill relatives have told us loud and clear that they are really struggling. What was tough before the pandemic, is even harder now.
This report sets out some fantastic recommendations, which we, together with unpaid carers have been campaigning about for a number of years and remain on the urgent and imperative list for Government.
On the review of Carer’s Allowance and the earnings limit:
“We are encouraged by the Committee’s acknowledgement of the financial difficulties faced by many unpaid carers. We therefore strongly welcome the recommendation for the Department for Work and Pensions to review Carer’s Allowance and to report back to Parliament within 12 months. As the lowest benefit of its kind, it does not reflect the value of unpaid carers’ role. We have also consistently called for the earnings limit to be raised and aligned with the National Living Wage. At present unpaid carers are being forced to reduce their working hours as the earnings threshold for receiving Carer’s Allowance fails to keep pace with the National Living Wage. This is especially concerning given the current cost of living crisis where many unpaid carers are being forced to choose between heating and eating.
A National Carers Strategy:
“A national and funded Carers Strategy would go a long way to ensuring that unpaid carers in a variety of different situations get the support and recognition that they deserve. We have also argued that making caring a protected characteristic would raise awareness and enhance the rights and recognition that carers get in a variety of settings and hope that Committee members will be able to explore this important proposal further shortly in the coming months.
Better incentives for carer identification and carer information hubs:
“The report’s recommendation of the Government and NHS England creating incentives for secondary and primary care to be able to identify unpaid carers and to include this status on their patient record would make a big difference. With 4.3million people becoming carers every year, this kind of systematic drive to identification of carers is critical and overdue. Carers need access to the right support at the beginning of their caring journey including appropriate information, self-care, and digital resources to assist them in their unpaid caring role.
Adult social care:
“The recommendation of the Government establishing a Commissioner for Care and Support who would act as a champion for older adults, disabled people and unpaid carers in the next 12 months is also welcome.
Financial settlement which is realistic, long-term and protected for adult social care:
“A well functioning social care system is the essential backbone of our society, supporting both unpaid carers and the disabled people they care for. We therefore support the recommendation of the Government increasing the financial settlement for adult social care over three years, for the funding to be realistic and for the long-term and most crucially protected. A comprehensive workforce strategy for social care would also help to ensure that there are enough staff in the system to provide access to good quality care when it’s needed.
There is a lot of work ahead to ensure that unpaid carers and those they care for are provided with the right support and care and we now call on the Government to accept and implement these important recommendations as soon as possible.”
Read the report here.