Paul Burstow MP: Liberal Democrats announce package of measures to help carers

Care in the home Some rights reserved by British Red CrossThere are 6.5 million carers in the UK today looking after friends and family who started to need a little help to carry on their day to day lives. Sadly for both carers and those they care for, a little help can become a lot more as conditions deteriorate and people are able to do less for themselves.

That one in eight of us is willing to selflessly prioritise the needs of our loved ones is truly inspirational. But too often as a society we seem to punish rather than venerate and celebrate the sacrifices carers make. Carers UK tells us that 61% of carers have faced depression because of their caring role and 49% are struggling financially. Considered in the context that 45% have had to give up work to care, maybe neither of these financial or emotional pressures should surprise us.

But carers are the unsung heroes of our health and care system and save the state an estimated £119 billion – that’s more than the entire annual budget for the NHS.

Looking after carers isn’t just the right thing to do, but it makes financial sense too so in this government despite the deficit we have made a start. We’ve allocated more funding for carers breaks and enshrined new rights for carers in the Care Act. And I’m delighted that the Liberal Democrats have now nailed our colours to the mast and committed to going much further to give carers the fair deal that they deserve.

As Norman Lamb and I announced at the weekend, the Liberal Democrats will put carers front and centre of our manifesto with a package of support designed to ease the strain. We want to make it easier for carers to stay in work, encouraging employers to be more flexible, and we will make sure that carers who have left work get much more support to help them get back into the job market when they are able. We are also going to raise the amount you can earn before losing carers allowance to £150 to make sure work pays for carers. We will introduce a “carers’ passport” to give carers more information and more support through the NHS, including access to free hospital parking, and we will give every carer who cares for more than 35 hours a week a carers bonus worth £250.

We know that government can’t alleviate the emotional and physical toll care takes on millions of carers every day, but, having campaigned on carers’ issues for many years, I am delighted that we have committed to delivering a package of reforms in the next government that should make the practical challenges a lot easier. With our ageing population and projections suggesting an ever greater number of people will be relying on family carers in the years to come, none of us can afford to wait any longer.


* Paul Burstow is Liberal Democrat candidate for Sutton and Cheam and was the MP until the dissolution of Parliament on 30th March.

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  • Philip Rolle 19th Aug '14 - 8:25pm

    Good news, but why is the Coalition allowing local authority care homes to be closed?

    Who will look after those presently in those homes if they cannot be cared for at home and cannot afford residential care?

  • Proposals like a “carer’s passport” for ‘free’ parking sound a good idea to start with but there needs to be some really tight qualification rules attached. If not they will go the same way as the ‘Blue Badge’ scheme which unfortunately is very much abused.

  • Andrew Colman 20th Aug '14 - 10:15am

    As a carer in employment there are changes that could make a carers life easier (and perhaps save money and peteol)

    (1) GPs to make much more use of email for routine contacts (Currently my GP does not use email or does not give it to patients)
    (2) Longer term repeat prescrpition programmes which don’r require reordering every 28 days or use of paper at the surgery and where ordering can be done one line via email
    (3) A more holistic approach to patient needs, eg setting sufficient time in advance to deal properly with patients needs rather than trying the first idea that comes into the Doctors head and saying next patient please

  • Andrew Colman 20th Aug '14 - 10:18am

    In addition to above
    routine (repeat prescription) drugs should be posted direct to the patient rather than dispatched via a chemist shop.

  • The more time goes on, the more disorganised and disconnected services for elderly people needing care seem to be.

    There is no coordination between different organisations. Every agency needs to be continually pushed and reminded by the family of the person in question. God help people who don’t have families to push on their behalf. And it would be so bloody simply to organise things adequately if people could only apply a bit of elementary common sense.Just some kind of list of the things that need to be done for people with certain conditions. And, of course, a way of someone – anyone – just taking a note of the people with those conditions, and notifying the people who need to know,

    Not rocket science. Just elementary applied common sense and administrative efficiency. But, apparently, wholly beyond the UK in the 21st century.

  • Gareth Edwards 21st Aug '14 - 11:18am

    Interesting – but would the LibDems reverse the Welfare Reform Act that they helped vote through Parliament? And will they reverse the Bedroom Tax? Only I work for a charity that supports un-paid carers, and we’ve had many instances where carers have been forced from their homes into inappropriate dwellings because they don’t fulfil the coalition’s criteria. Also, if disabled people fail to fulfil the ever tightening criteria to access P.I.P. claims, then they get dumped onto JSA, and if their partner earns more than £102 per week then they receive nothing. This is impacting on un-paid carers as well, another attack on the poor and vulnerable by your party’s coalition.

    Oh, and please stop trying to fool the public with the old ‘got to deal with the deficit’ argument and ‘necessary’ swinging austerity measures, when your government could have brought in a 0.5% banking levy on transactions over £100,000 which would have quickly covered it. You’re not fooling all of us.

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