Tag Archives: carers

Caring for carers: what next?

It’s been a pivotal month for us carers in which our dedication to our loved ones has made the headlines for various reasons,  good and bad.

The good news was that Liberal Democrat MP Wendy Chamberlain’s Carer’s Leave Act finally became law on 6th April.

This provides all carers in employment with a new statutory right to take five days of unpaid leave from work each year to fulfil their caring responsibilities. Wendy, herself, said she would have wanted this to be paid leave but the principle is now enshrined in law and at least doors have been opened. 

 It must come as some relief to many families that are balancing having to work and care in this cost-of-living crisis. 

Both my husband and I worked full time to pay the bills whilst we were bringing up our two kids in the South East. We are proud of them both: one neurotypical, artistic daughter and our son who has Autism and a Learning Disability. 

Archie, now 21, needs constant care and supervision. Even when he reached an age that most teenagers could self-administer paracetamol and have a duvet day, we would have to take it in turns to negotiate time off with our bosses to look after him.  My husband used up countless days of Annual Leave when he was sick or I had an INSET day. We also needed to pay for a childminder after school as his special needs transport would deliver him home by 4pm and neither of us could leave work by then. 

As if that wasn’t hard enough, at the age of 16 he developed Epilepsy.

The months after this crushing diagnosis were made of nightmares while the neurologist tried to balance his meds. Right in the middle of teaching a French lesson, I would get a call from his school saying he had fitted, injured himself and they had called the paramedics. Trying not to panic, I would rapidly set work for the class, inform a colleague I needed to leave immediately and try to stick to the speed limit as I drove the twenty miles down the motorway to my injured son. The worst was time when he gave himself a black eye as he collapsed, convulsing on to a urinal – poor thing!

My Head Teacher was always supportive in the various emergency scenarios that arose but there was always the expectation that I would make up the time at some point with extra cover or more duties. It also came with the guilt that my colleagues had to compensate for my absences. 

I was, though, lucky and can imagine that other employers and employees may be less sympathetic. I really hope that the Carer’s Leave Act will remove the onus on us to make up for lost work time and lead to more empathy with colleagues. Quite frankly, we carers have enough on our plates. 

This new law is hopefully a stepping stone to so much more that can be done for the 2.4 million unpaid carers in the UK who save the economy an estimated £164 billion

Carer’s Allowance- changing to Carer’s Support Payment in Scotland, is now a meagre £81.90 per week or £4,258.80 per annum. For those of us lucky enough to live north of the border we can add in the supplements we get in June and December and we get a grand total of £4,836. That’s an hourly rate of 49p in England and Wales and 55p in Scotland -if you consider most of us are on duty day and night.

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LISTEN: Ed Davey talks about his life as a carer

Ed Davey has given an interview to the Times Radio podcast What I Wish I’d Known. He talks about his life as a carer for his Mum, Nanna, son and wife.

The Times newspaper has a report on the podcast (£)

He describes how he was with his mother when she died of Cancer when he was 15, in his school uniform and how he felt afterwards:

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Carer’s Leave Bill – a Lib Dem success

Our Bill to provide some support for carers has just passed its final stage in Parliament.

The Carer’s Leave Bill will give a statutory right to over 2 million carers to take five days of unpaid leave per year from their employment. It’s not a lot but it is definitely a step in the right direction, recognising the immense pressures on family members and others who provide substantial unpaid care to people with extra needs.

So congratulations to Wendy Chamberlain in the Commons and Chris Fox in the Lords for successfully steering the Bill through.

Chris Fox says:

I have had the privilege to hear first-hand from unpaid carers what a difference this Bill will make. I am proud to support it and hope that it will help millions of unpaid carers better balance work and care.

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Ed Davey: Tax the gambling industry to solve the NHS crisis

Mark’s Monday press release round-up covered this story:

Liberal Democrat Leader Ed Davey is today announcing proposals for a new Carer’s Minimum Wage, to tackle the huge staff shortages in the social care sector. Under the Liberal Democrat plans, social care workers would be paid at least £2 an hour more than the current minimum wage, bringing their pay up to at least £11.50 an hour today – and £12.42 from this April. The proposals would benefit 850,000 workers, making up more than half of all people working in frontline care.

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Ed Davey calls for higher pay for health and social care workers

Ed Davey used his first interview of the year on Laura Kuenssberg’s Sunday show to call for an increase in pay for health and social care workers to keep people working in the sector, which is currently in crisis. He is calling for at least an extra £2 per hour to be added to the minimum wage for care workers. This would be paid for by asking the gambling industry to pay more tax.

Lib Dem research found that a staggering 1 in 7 UK adults say they’ve had to stay at home to look after a relative over the last 12 months due to a lack of care workers.

The survey reveals millions have had to step in to look after a loved one due to a lack of professional carers in their area. A further 1 in 5 (22%)  of UK adults say either they or someone else they know have paid for a private carer to look after a relative.

The party says that the proposals would tackle soaring staff vacancies in the care sector. There are currently a staggering 165,000 vacancies in social care, up 55,000 since last year, with 1 in 9 frontline care jobs vacant. These chronic staff shortages are leading to patients being left stuck in hospital waiting for social care, contributing to record-breaking waits in A&E and dangerous ambulance handover delays.

The crisis has been worsened by many care home workers leaving for better paid jobs in other sectors. New analysis from the House of Commons Library shows that the typical weekly salary of care and home workers is currently £447, compared to £468 for those working in hospitality, £477 for supermarket workers and £485 for those working in retail.

Ed said:

Thousands of people are stranded in hospital beds because there simply aren’t enough care workers to look after them at home or in a care home.

The first step to fixing this mess is to pay those working in social care more, to prevent the exodus of workers to supermarkets and other better paid jobs.

This is a skilled and crucial job and it should be paid more.

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21 October 2022 – the overnight press release

Chamberlain to lead debate on Carer’s Leave Bill

North East Fife MP Wendy Chamberlain will tomorrow lead a debate in the House of Commons on her Carer’s Leave Bill, after which it will be voted on by MPs. The Bill would give carers the right to take unpaid leave and has cross-party support.

Ms Chamberlain’s Private Member’s Bill would give an estimated 2.3 million carers across the UK a statutory right to take five days of unpaid leave per year. Carer’s UK have described this as a ‘landmark’ piece of legislation which would help carers to better balance work and care.

The Bill …

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19 October 2022 – today’s press releases (part 1)

It’s been an “interesting” day, to say the least, and there have been so many press releases coming out of HQ that, rather than try to get them into one post, it’s probably easier to do it in two. Think of it as a display of governance and organisation…

  • Inflation figures: Truss must confirm rise in pensions and benefits today
  • Welsh Liberal Democrats Respond to Proposed Boundary Changes
  • PMQs: Truss refuses to increase support for carers
  • Fracking vote: Conservative MPs must “show some backbone”
  • Triple lock: Truss dragged kicking and screaming into protecting pensioners

Inflation figures: Truss must confirm rise in pensions and benefits today

In response to the announcement of an inflation rise of 10.1%, Liberal Democrat Treasury Spokesperson Sarah Olney said:

In the midst of this cost of living catastrophe, pensioners and those relying on benefits cannot be undercut and left to struggle further.

Liz Truss must act today to reassure the public and confirm in Parliament that pensions and benefits will rise to match inflation.

Not one penny can be lost, to do so would be gross negligence and failure of our most vulnerable members of society.

Welsh Liberal Democrats Respond to Proposed Boundary Changes

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“I can’t have her starving to death” – Carer Clare describes energy bill terror

We’ve mentioned several times before on this site about the impact of rising fuel bills on disabled people. It’s not just that if you are less mobile you need more heating, it’s about charging up wheelchairs, and running life sustaining equipment like feeding pumps.

Clare Steel* is a Labour Councillor in West Dunbartonshire. She cares for her 15 year old daughter Katie, who has complex medical conditions which mean she can’t walk, talk or swallow.

Katie depends on nine separate pieces of electrical equipment to keep her alive and make sure she can get washed and go up and down the stairs and move around and communicate- the very basic things required for human dignity.

Yesterday Clare spoke to Radio Scotland about her absolute terror about how she is going to pay the bills after 1st October. Right now I want to bundle up every single Conservative MP and put them in a room and make them listen to her. And I also want every person in the country to hear it so that they can understand the reality carers and disabled people are facing. You can listen here from about 20 minutes in.

Clare talked about the sort of equipment Katie has:

“Katie requires 24 hours care. That involves lots of medical equipment. Because Katie can’t eat, she has a pump which pumps high calorie milk into her bowel for 16 hours a day.”

She also has an 18 stone electric wheelchair which has a massive energy gobbling battery pack to get around as she can’t walk, a chairlift to get her up the stairs to her bed, an electric bath chair so that she can get in and out of the bath safely, a special bed and aids which enable her to communicate.

Every piece of equipment in Katie’s life allows Katie to be alive and function daily. I don’t have a choice about having these on charge constantly.

Clare was in tears when she asked:

How am I going to be able to keep Katie alive day in day out and not worry about how I am going to pay my energy bills. It’s just the reality. My worry is paying my electricity bill to have Katie’s machines. That’s not even including the cost of heat.

We don’t have options. There is no options. I was looking at a bath chair online which I could blow up so I might not have to use the bath chair, but that is only one thing. Katie’s wheelchair is 18 stone with a massive battery pack. Do I tell her she can’t have independence?

She needs her suction machine. I can’t have her choking to death. She needs her feeding pump, I can’t have her starving to death.

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LibLink: Ed Davey and Sal Brinton on the end to free Covid tests

Ed Davey has penned a piece for the Yorkshire Post: End to free Covid tests is like a tax on carers.

Boris Johnson’s determination to remove all Covid precautions and his insistence that the public will have to take personal responsibility whilst removing their ability to assess the level of risk around them is absurd.

How on earth are people supposed to take responsibility for themselves when they may be forced to pay up to £600 a year for lateral flow tests at a time when the cost of living is skyrocketing?

Although Covid is not the threat it once was, thanks to heroic work of our NHS staff and care workers, as well as the scientists that invented vaccines in record time, it is still dangerous to the elderly and to those who are vulnerable.

Many of these people rely on carers, often family and friends, to support them, and if not shielding, are taking extra precautions.

What use is a free test for these vulnerable people if the carer they rely on daily cannot visit them for lack of affordable testing?

This week, I calculated that a carer doing just two tests a week would lead to costs of £622.96 a year. That’s nearly 20 per cent of their annual carer’s allowance of £3,500.

For the unpaid carers to endure so much throughout the pandemic and its aftermath, to then be slapped with this huge Covid test bill is disgraceful.

He summarises it thus:

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Ed Davey: Sajid Javid care package for unpaid carers “insulting”

Cash for unpaid carers amounts to 87p a year, Ed Davey told the Independent yesterday. This comment followed the publication of the government’s long delayed white paper on reforming funding for social care.

Ed Davey said that the funding on offer over a three-year period was an “insulting” response to the sacrifices made by millions of people who have cared for disabled or ill family members and other loved ones during the pandemic. They are now at “breaking point” after months without respite.

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20 March 2021 – the day’s press releases (part 1)

  • Small businesses must be at the heart of our recovery
  • Liberal Democrats champion a fairer deal for consumers
  • Liberal Democrats call for emergency £2.6bn carers support package
  • Small businesses must be at the heart of our recovery

    Liberal Democrats have passed a motion at their Spring Conference calling for a comprehensive package of support for small businesses and the self-employed, including:

  • Dedicated support schemes for the worst-affected sectors, such as hospitality, tourism, charities and the creative industries.
  • More support for businesses as we return to normal, by extending business rates relief, VAT reductions and tax deferrals.
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Lib Dems back carers with £2.6 billion support package in emotional debate

You would think, wouldn’t you, that if the person you had spent your life from childhood caring for died, you would get some help with funeral expenses?

You would think, wouldn’t you, that if the person you had spent your life from childhood for died, you wouldn’t be made homeless?

You would think, wouldn’t you, that if you were willing to take on the responsibility of caring for someone you love, you would automatically get at least some training in how to lift them in a way that didn’t ruin your own health? Or some information regarding your rights as a carer.

Nope.

In an incredibly powerful and emotional debate at Conference, carers described how hard their lives can be. The main motion, proposing a £2.6 billion boost for support for carers, was proposed by Ed Davey, who, of course, has had caring responsibilities throughout his life. As a teenager he cared for his terminally ill mother. As an adult, he cared for his grandparents and, now, his severely disabled son.

Charley Hasted proposed an amendment which added in to the main motion, better provision for respite care, better training and support for carers, removal of the cliff edge of removal of benefits if they should take up employment and faster access to mental health support. In one of the most powerful speeches I have ever heard at Conference, they described how they can’t remember a time when they weren’t a carer. They care for their disabled mother with their sibling. They described how the last time they and their sibling were able to do anything social together was 23 years ago when they went to the cinema as 11 year olds.

They broke down as they described their love for their mother and the fact that they have never had respite care as the arrangements that would be made for her would not meet her needs. Carers are desperate, they said, and need the help set out in the motion.

Charley’s amendment passed with not one single vote against.

Young Liberal Katharine Macy, said that if her mum died tomorrow, she wouldn’t have any idea about how she would pay for the funeral. She described how three people she has cared for her in her life have passed away and the problems that this has caused. Her amendment gives anyone who is eligible for Carer’s Allowance the right to a Funeral Expenses Payment.

The main proposals in the motion which you can read here, are:

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Finally, success helping low paid people working for Merton Council

For the last 9 years Merton Lib Dems have been campaigning to help some of the poorest paid and hardest working people in our community – those who  look after people who need care.

We started 9 years ago with a question from a member of the public – me – at a Council meeting about the Council paying its staff the London Living Wage (LLW).   The answer was that it would cost £275k and would cause all sorts of difficulties.

A few months later  the Council announced that it had decided to pay all staff at least the LLW: the many difficulties to doing this had disappeared and the cost reduced to £47k.

That didn’t cover those working for Merton’s contractors though and in particular those working in social care. Mary-Jane Jeanes – then the sole Liberal Democrat councillor – proposed a motion that asked for Merton to commit to paying the staff of contractors the LLW and to commit to become a Living Wage Employer.

It was voted down by the Labour Group.

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Trying to be the voice of carers is no good without a strategy

If I am honest, I am only just hanging on as a member.

I was desperate for Layla Moran to win the Leadership election. With her modern day articulation of Charles Kennedy’s ‘The Future of Politics’ – the book which persuaded me to join the Party in 2002. She was unsullied by the Coalition years; she was the fresh, engaging face that I wanted (and still want) for the Party.

I went to ground after the Leadership election. Trying to be a good member. Trying not to be too critical of the new Leader. But with months on top of a year’s …

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Campaign to stand up for carers

The party is running a campaign to increase the Carer’s Allowance by £1,000 a year:

During this terrible pandemic, our carers have been more important than ever. Yet carers are still often forgotten or ignored by those in power.

Back our campaign to stand up for carers – starting by raising the Carer’s Allowance by £1,000 a year 👇

Carers – paid and unpaid, young and old – do a remarkable and important job.

They deserve our support but are far too often forgotten and ignored. Liberal Democrats will stand up for carers and lead the way to a more caring society as

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It’s a mistake to try to be ‘the party of carers’

Sir Ed Davey has repeatedly said that he wants the Liberal Democrats to be “the party of carers”. This is an admirable goal, drawing from his own lived experience as a carer for his mother as a child, and now for his disabled son.

However putting this front and centre, both in Sir Ed’s conference speech and in numerous media interviews, seems to be a serious strategic mistake.

This is not because the issue isn’t important. Carers are treated appallingly by the state and receive grossly inadequate support, if they get any at all. It is absolutely right to speak up for them and to have policies that help them.

But it is a mistake to make this our main message, because the public don’t vote for parties based on technical policy details. They don’t vote for skills wallets, social care reform policies or coffee cup taxes. Nor do they vote based on stances on carers, political reform or mental health provision.

It’s not that the public don’t think that issues like lifelong learning or reducing disposable coffee cup usage are worthy causes. It’s just that they don’t use such stances as guides on who to vote for. As our party president has pointed out in the past, people vote based on what are known as ‘valence’ issues: essentially, totemic issues which signal the “goodness” or “badness” of a party on key areas.

People judge the message a party sends out about its values on key topics like the NHS, or the economy, or Brexit, and then they assume that the detailed policies must be good or bad on that issue, and on associated issues, based on that initial judgement.

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Ed Davey and National Carers Rights Day

The pandemic has opened all our eyes to the importance of carers, whether employed in the care sector or unpaid people who care for family members.

Today is National Carers Rights Day, an event co-ordinated by Carers UK. Their research has unearthed the astonishing statistic that unpaid carers in the UK have saved the state £530 million every day of the pandemic – that is a staggering £135 billion so far.

It is essential that carers know their rights – what they are entitled to and sources of help. There are plenty of pointers here.

During the leadership campaign Ed Davey made respect and support for carers a key issue. He has been doing some serious work on the policy area since then, inspired by his own experiences as a carer, first for his mother when a teenager, and more recently for his disabled son.

He has now launched a campaign to raised the Carer’s Allowance by £1000 per year.

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30 September 2020 – today’s press releases

  • Liberal Democrats to vote against Coronavirus Act due to “watered down” care provision
  • Clarity of purpose and clarity of messages essential to defeat Covid – Davey

Liberal Democrats to vote against Coronavirus Act due to “watered down” care provision

The Liberal Democrats have today confirmed they intend to vote against the Coronavirus Act because of the Prime Minister’s failure to reverse the reductions in rights to care for vulnerable people, particularly the disabled.

Leader of the Liberal Democrats Ed Davey warned he had “deep reservations about the serious implications for people’s wellbeing, rights and freedoms” and made clear the provision of care was a “red line.”

The MP, himself a carer for his disabled son and a patron of the Disability Law Service, wrote to the Prime Minister ahead of the vote to stress the legal advice shows that the measures in the Act are a breach of the UK’s obligations under international law.

The Liberal Democrats, who supported emergency measures before the UK went into lockdown, have also pointed to 141 people wrongly prosecuted under the Act and the reduction in safeguards for detention under the Mental Health Act as reasons to withhold their support.

Leader of the Liberal Democrats Ed Davey said:

To save lives through this pandemic, the Liberal Democrats have supported and continue to support all necessary measures to keep people safe – including the lockdowns and face-covering requirements.

However, I have deep reservations about the serious implications for people’s wellbeing, rights and freedoms. Most alarming to me is the watering down of care for elderly, disabled and vulnerable people. That is a red line issue.

Just imagine what that has meant for those children and their families. On top of all the other hardships of lockdown, having the lifeline of caring support cut off completely.

I have appealed to the Prime Minister to listen and heed the legal advice, but he has refused. Liberal Democrat MPs are therefore unable to vote for an Act that fails to care for the most vulnerable, sees people wrongfully charged and gives Ministers a blank cheque.

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10 June 2020 – the overnight press releases

  • Record levels of domestic abuse demands tougher law, warn Lib Dems
  • New flexible employment rights for carers in new Bill proposed by Ed Davey

Record levels of domestic abuse demands tougher law, warn Lib Dems

Responding to reports from the NSPCC that children impacted by domestic abuse have soared to an average of one an hour during the coronavirus lockdown, Liberal Democrat Homes Affairs spokesperson Christine Jardine said:

Domestic abuse leaves a devasting, lifelong impact on survivors. To know that cases have spiked to a record level during the coronavirus lockdown is terrifying.

Ministers must act. Not only must the Government address shortages

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Recent stats on caring

I’ve been delving into the Department of Work and Pensions Family Resources Survey 2016/17 published recently. It contains statistics in five broad categories: Income and State Support; Tenure; Disability; Care; and Pensions.

It is the Care statistics which I’d like to highlight today. I’ve written previously on this site about carers, highlighting the prevalence of women doing the majority of care-work around the world.

These recent Family Resources Survey stats show that the largest portion of informal care is for ageing parents. 33% of this care is for parents not living in …

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Caring, Bereavement and the Liberal Family

I recently suffered a major bereavement, an event that triggered a decline in my health.

Ten years as a carer has taught me that there isn’t much help out there. That still appears to be the case as I try to cope in a very difficult situation.

Bereavement counselling is only available from charities and there is a three-month-long waiting list.

The alternative is the NHS run Talking Therapies which takes you through several hoops before you can even get to speak to a professional counsellor!

All this whilst dealing with the arrangements for the person who has passed away, which there is no …

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Opinion: Valuing Carers and Respecting Older People

 

I think valuing carers and respecting older people go hand-in-hand.  Do you know that there is a ‘Respect for the Aged Day’ in Japan each year in September?  It is a national holiday (Keirō no hi) – can you imagine devoting one of our Bank Holidays to celebrating older people?  I think it would be a good idea, and raise awareness of the value and contribution older people have made and continue to make in society.

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Opinion: A life after caring

There are an estimated six million carers in the UK and the system is struggling to provide them with the support they need.

I have written previously about my experience, in which I abruptly had to give up a full time job to become a carer.

The Liberal Democrats have included policies in their pre manifesto that will help, but it isn’t just about carers while they are actually caring.

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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 …

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Paul Burstow MP writes..Carer’s Bonus is only the first new policy to help carers

CarerJust as public services, communities and workplaces have seen a shift in how families are supported to balance childcare responsibilities with busy working lives, we now need a similar shift to meet the care needs of a rapidly growing older population too.

Thanks to the Liberal Democrats the Care Act and Children and Families Act have both extended the rights of Carers of all ages, but there is still much more to be done to recognise the hidden treasure that are Carers.

Caring responsibilities can come at any time in a person’s life …

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Liberal Democrats promise £250 Carer’s Bonus

Care in the home Some rights reserved by British Red CrossNick Clegg has announced that a Liberal Democrat Government would give carers an annual payment of £250. This comes on top of several measures introduced in Government to help those who care for family members, both practical and financial,  including;

  • £800m Department for Education funding to local authorities to fund short breaks for disabled children and their families.
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Paul Burstow writes… The care bill must deliver for carers

Across the country today, almost a million people are selflessly caring for friends and family with cancer. Their work is incredible and inspiring, and not only means the world to those they care for, but makes a massive contribution to our society. For far too long their role has been overlooked. It is why while I was Care Minister I made sure that the Care Bill enshrines new rights for carers in England.

The Bill rightly puts carers at the centre of care – as equal partners in care planning who, for the first time, will have clear …

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Hard won new rights for vulnerable young carers are a welcome step forward

Young CarerFor far too long, the needs of hundreds of thousands of young carers who do incredible things to look after and support members of their family have been overlooked. They pay a big price with their school work, their social lives, and very often their own health.

The role of carers at any age is still not valued or recognised anywhere near enough. This is despite the strides Lib Dems in government have made recognising carers needs and, for the first time, establishing the right in legislation to have these needs assessed.

But, as the Care Bill for adults and the Children and Families Bill passed through parliament in tandem, many of us realised that young carers were once again falling through the gaps. They were not covered by the new rights in the Care Bill and were overlooked by the Children and Families Bill.

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National carers week 2013

At some point in our lives, almost all of us will find ourselves caring for a relative or close friend. Many of us will one day be reliant on some form of care ourselves. We owe our carers an immense debt of gratitude. In this week’s National Carers Week, individuals and organisations are joining together to highlight the invaluable work carried out by UK carers and to raise the profile of the nature and challenges of the role.

For too long, the care system in the UK has been designed around the needs of large organisations rather than around …

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LDVIdeo: Nick Clegg on pensions and carers’ reforms

From the Guardian, video of Nick Clegg talking about Liberal Democrat inspired pensions reforms and help for the elderly and their carers.

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