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Tuesday, 05 June 2018

New two-year action plan to support unpaid carers draws mixed response

Written by Shaun Connolly

New Government measures aimed at supporting carers have drawn a mixed response.

The two-year action plan includes a scheme to boost employment help for carers, and a £500,000 innovations fund to find fresh methods of support.

The MS Society expressed concern at a lack of "any real commitment" to increase financial support for carers in the package, but welcomed measures to encourage flexible working.

In the UK, one in 10 adults provide unpaid care for a family member or friend who cannot cope without their help because of illness, disability, a mental health problem or an addiction.

The plan will also fund a review to find the best ways to identify young carers and help them access support.

Care Minister Caroline Dinenage (pictured) said: "It's a sad fact that carers too often feel ignored, isolated or taken for granted, and given any one of us could become a carer at some point in our lives, government and society must do more to support them.

"Together these measures are a step-change in the way we support carers so they can gain employment, learn the skills they need to succeed and feel supported by the communities they live in.

"Our review to identify young carers will ensure they don't slip through the net."

Labour's shadow minister for social care Barbara Keeley said Tory cuts had been "inhumane".

"This action plan is notable for planning very little action that would actually support carers, when the need for support through better-funded social care has never been more urgent," she said.

"After eight years of inhumane Tory cuts to council budgets, there is a £6.3 billion hole in social care funding. That means there are 400,000 fewer people receiving publicly funded care, and that is heaping pressure on unpaid carers."

The MS Society's director of external affairs, Genevieve Edwards, said: "While we're encouraged to see positive steps on employment in the carers action plan, there remains a lack of any real commitment to increase financial support for carers.

"Unpaid carers are under untold pressure, with over four in 10 admitting they struggle to make ends meet. Given it's their contribution keeping our social care system afloat, they deserve better.

"The Government must urgently deliver a funding solution so the system works for unpaid carers, and everyone else who relies on it, both now and in the future. People with MS can't wait any longer."

The Centre for Ageing Better's chief executive Dr Anna Dixon said: "Proposals to strengthen flexible working for full and part time workers, as well as provide paid carers leave, are extremely welcome."

Copyright (c) Press Association Ltd. 2018, All Rights Reserved. Picture (c) Matt Alexander / PA Wire.