Liz Kendall MP, Labour’s Shadow Minister for Care and Older People, today (Wednesday 14 January) sets out plans which will improve the support given to over 295,000 unpaid family carers across the North East, if Labour wins the General Election in May.
The package of measures includes:
• A new duty on the NHS to identify family carers, so they can get the right help and support, and a new right for carers to ask for an annual health check – allowing problems to be identified earlier and prevent costs escalating
• A single point of contact with care services for families caring for people with the greatest needs, so they don’t have to battle different parts of the system
• Ensuring the funding currently identified for carers’ breaks is properly ring-fenced, to make sure all the money goes to family carers
• Consulting with employers, trade unions and carers organisations on how to improve flexible working for family carers, which could include measures such as a new period of ‘adjustment leave’ to help families cope with a short-term crisis
• Recognising the transport costs facing family carers, by including family carers in the groups who can be eligible for hospital car parking concessions
• Abolishing the bedroom tax – which hits 60,000 carers and penalises them for the extra facilities they need
Liz Kendall MP said:
“Family life is changing and more and more of us are looking after elderly or disabled relatives. This can often be a real struggle and many families feel pushed to breaking point.
“Too often carers have to battle all the different services to try and get the support they need. One in three family carers who are in paid work have to give up their job or reduce their hours because they can’t get the right help to care or flexible working hours.
“Most unpaid carers don’t have enough time to pay attention to their own health, and many don’t come forward for help or get any breaks. Often people don’t even see themselves as being a carer – they’re just a son, daughter, husband, wife or partner trying to look after the person they love.
“It’s not right that people who do so much get so little in return. We need to improve support for families, and Labour’s package of measures will make a real and practical difference to their lives.”
Welcoming the news, Anna Turley, Labour’s candidate for Redcar said:
“Carers are the unsung heroes of our society and they are forgotten about too often. Unfair measures such as the bedroom tax have placed huge strain on many local disabled people and their carers, making daily life a real strain. I am pleased that Labour is bringing forward these proposals which will improve the quality of life for 10,000 carers in Redcar alone. These are practical measures that will make a real difference to many.”
Anna Turley has pledged to introduce a Carers’ Forum if she’s elected as Redcar’s MP to inform her work and highlight issues facing unpaid carers.