Take action to support unpaid carers

Ahead of the general election, I am writing to ask that you show your support for the millions of people across the country who are providing unpaid care for family and friends.

I hope that if you are successfully elected as the Member of Parliament for South East Cornwall, you will stand up for carers in parliament over the next five years.

Please click here to tweet your support for unpaid carers: https://ctt.ac/boHet 

Most of us will now provide care at some point in our lives. Yet, despite the numbers and the invaluable care they provide, carers are urgently in need of support and recognition. I wanted to share with you Carers UK’s ‘manifesto for carers 2019’ – which highlights the top priorities unpaid carers want to see delivered by the next UK Government.

Download Carers UK’s manifesto here: carersuk.org/manifesto19

Our social care system is near breaking point, and for too long unpaid carers have been holding the system together by providing care worth £132bn each year – that is equivalent to a second NHS.

It is simply not right that carers struggle financially because of their caring role - yet a shocking 1.2 million carers are living in poverty. Two thirds of carers providing substantial care pay towards the cost of care for their loved one. As a result of the financial strain, many are unable to plan for their own futures.

5 million people now combine paid work and caring but it can be a huge challenge, and an impossible one without support. Every day 600 people have to leave work in order to care.

We want a society that values and supports carers. The time has come for carers to get the respect they deserve. 

Answer:

I have experienced this situation first-hand when I had to quit my full-time job to care for a sick relative.

In my work teaching children who are off school with long-term health problems, I also see the importance and impact of parents giving up work to become unpaid carers.

And as Vice Chair of Cornwall Council's Health and Adult Social Care Overview and Scrutiny Committee, I am absolutely aware that the care system would collapse overnight without the priceless work done by unpaid carers.

I am proud that Cornwall Council now pays all its carers at least £9.30 per hour (significantly more than the minimum wage) but I believe that carers allowance should be reformed to support unpaid carers properly too. Here is an extract from the Lib Dem manifesto spelling out some of the changes we propose:

Carers are unsung heroes; we need to do more to help them. We will:

  • Introduce a statutory guarantee of regular respite breaks for unpaid carers, and require councils to make regular contact with carers to offer support and signpost services.
  • Provide a package of carer benefits such as free leisure centre access, free bus travel for young carers, and self-referral to socially prescribed activities and courses.
  • Raise the amount people can earn before losing their Carer’s Allowance from £123 to £150 a week, and reduce the number of hours’ care per week required to qualify for it.

Finally, I have been alarmed to hear from several carers in the past few days that they have been notified that their "Dependent Adult Increase" (worth about £38 per week on top of carers allowance) is due to be stopped in April 2020. Furthermore this "change in circumstances" will trigger a transfer onto Universal Credit, which has a reputation for long delays in payments, leaving people in financial hardship. It is absolutely outrageous that the government should be cutting support to carers at the same time as fighting an election claiming that "austerity is over".

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