Carers UK has called on the government to be bold as it develops a new strategy to improve the lives of unpaid carers and has set out a vision of society that respects and values carers to support this aim.
In the UK, the number of older people needing care is predicted to outstrip the number of working age people available to provide it. As a result, Carers UK has carried out a comprehensive review of how people are supported now, and in the future, to provide care without putting their own lives on hold and jeopardising their health and long-term financial security.
Carers UK has submitted extensive evidence, rooted in the real life experiences of carers, calling for changes to financial support and making recommendations to build workplaces, an NHS and care services that are carer-friendly.
Heléna Herklots, Chief Executive of Carers UK, said: “Caring can happen to anyone at any time in their life. Over 2 million people take on a new caring role every year and many struggle to access the information and support to care for a loved one without falling out of work, struggling financially, or seeing their own health suffer.
“By 2017, the number of people needing care will have outstripped the number of working age family members able to provide it, so there has never been a more crucial time to look at what carers need now and in to the future.
“It’s vital that the government listens to the needs and priorities of carers and takes the opportunity of the strategy to transform the support available for people providing care and those they care for. The Government must act on these insights if the Carer’s Strategy is to deliver on strengthening support for carers.
“With recent changes in government, we urge the new Care Minister David Mowat to pick up where Alistair Burt MP left off and drive the Carer’s Strategy forward.”
Mark Brightburn, who balances working full-time with caring for his wife who has multiple sclerosis and epilepsy, said: “The evidence being presented today by Carers UK collates and articulates the lived realities of carers right now, highlighting the numerous combined challenges we face day-on-day, week-on-week.
“There are significant gaps in the information and support carers need and these gaps, in combination with the severe lack of co-ordination between health and care services make carers' and our families’ lives so much harder. Changes are needed on the ground from local authorities to ensure the aspirations of the Care Act can be fully realised for carers and those we care for.
“I hope that the Government will listen to what carers are saying they need and that the Government involves carers as it implements the new strategy.”
For further information on Carers UK’s submission to the Government’s Carer’s Strategy, visit: www.carersuk.org/for-professionals/policy/policy-library/submission-to-the-carers-strategy