Motion: Unpaid Carers

Council notes that:

● Carers UK estimates that there are 11.5 million people across the UK who give unpaid support to someone who is elderly, seriously ill or disabled; it estimates that, by doing so, unpaid carers are saving the Government £193 billion a year;

● In [AREA] X in ten adults identify as being a carer, and there are also a significant number of children taking on caring responsibilities;

● Most unpaid carers are having to spend more time looking after loved ones during the pandemic; most haven’t been able to take a single break since it started, and in June 2020 it was found that at least an additional 4.5m people have had to take on caring responsibilities due to the pandemic;

● Millions of people juggle work with unpaid caring responsibilities, and this can be hard: every day, an estimated 640 people give up paid work altogether in order to care;

● According to a survey by the Disability Law Service, 52% of carers who apply for flexible working have their applications refused;

● 900,000 full-time unpaid carers nationally – most of them women – rely on Carer’s Allowance, which at only £67.25 a week is the lowest benefit of its kind;

● Many carers are currently excluded from receiving Carer’s Allowance, including:

○ Carers in full-time education or studying for 21 hours or more a week

○ Carers earning more than £128 a week – less than 15 hours a week on the
National Living Wage

○ Carers who spend less than 35 hours per week on their caring

● Thousands of carers are facing extreme financial hardship: a recent survey by Carers UK found that more than a third of those on Carer’s Allowance are struggling to make ends meet; many have been struggling for months, often relying on foodbanks to feed themselves and the people they care for;

● In 2019 it was found that 51% of carers provide at least 50 hours of care per week;

● 63% of carers also have a Disability or long term health condition themselves – sometimes as a result of their caring responsibilities

Council believes that:

● People who care for others – whether paid or unpaid, young or old – do a remarkable and important job; they deserve our support, but are far too often forgotten and ignored;

● Millions of carers face big challenges every single day: many are living in poverty, many find it impossible to juggle work with caring responsibilities, and many struggle with their own physical and mental health; these challenges have been made even harder by the COVID-19 pandemic;

● As this pandemic has reminded everyone, caring for people’s health doesn’t stop at the hospital exit or the GP’s surgery door; we can only truly improve the NHS if we properly support carers;

● We must do far more to support our carers; [AREA] Council must stand up for carers and lead the way to a more caring society as we emerge from this pandemic;

● Supporting carers is a vital part of building a fairer society, championing social justice and achieving gender equality;

● It is essential that widespread reforms are enacted to better protect and support Carers, and those they care for, and for the benefit of society.

Council therefore calls on the government to:

● Introduce paid Carer’s Leave;

● Make caring a protected characteristic under the Equality Act 2010;

● Provide emergency funding for respite care so that carers can take breaks; this should replace the care provided by the carer on a 1:1 basis without any requirement for the disabled person to go into a respite care centre (unless they want to) or accept a reduction in care hours;

● Require employers to make reasonable adjustments to enable employees with caring responsibilities to provide that care;

● Raise Carer’s Allowance by £20 a week and increase the Carer Element of Universal Credit by £20 a week, so carers’ other benefits are not reduced as a result;

● Increase the Carer Premium and Carer Addition by £20 a week as well, and providing an equivalent payment to carers who are entitled to Carer’s Allowance but not receiving it, so older carers on low incomes also benefit;

● Raise the amount carers can earn before losing Carer’s Allowance from £128 to £160 a week, introduce tapering off after this point so that unpaid carers are not subject to a cliff edge removal of benefits when they try to move into employment, and reducing the number of hours’ care per week required to qualify for it;

● Provide additional funding to local authorities and relevant leisure providers to enable them to provide a package of carer benefits including access to training and support as required e.g. manual handling, first aid, dementia care and understanding their rights as a carer;

● Make receipt of Carer’s Allowance an eligibility criterion for the Government’s Funeral
Expenses Payment;

● A commitment to move towards at least 80% of referrals to Mental Health and Occupational Therapy services to be fulfilled within 8 weeks and 100% within 16 weeks;

● Further reform claimant rules on carers allowance to allow people to combine the hours they care for different people in a claim and to allow for multiple people to claim Carer’s Allowance for the same person where they all meet entitlement rules.

Tim Brett says

thanks , can you advise how much of the motion would apply in Scotland ?
Tim Brett Group leader Fife Council

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