Chancellor Gordon Brown’s (pictured right) conference pledge to provide greater recognition for carers needs to be translated into a fair settlement for the group in next year’s comprehensive spending review, campaigners said this week.
In a speech outlining what the UK could expect under his leadership, Brown told delegates that personal care for the frail and old was one of the “greatest failures of social policy” by successive governments and that the importance of unpaid care
provided by families needed to be “recognised anew”.
While welcoming Brown’s comments, Andrew Chidgey, head of policy and campaigns at the Alzheimer’s Society, said they needed to be translated into action. “He must use the comprehensive spending review to tackle chronic under-investment in social care and the inadequate services for carers,” he said.
Emily Holzhausen, head of policy at Carers UK, said it was encouraging that Brown had mentioned carers in his speech but that the government needed to set out its long-term strategy for the group.
“It’s critical that the government sets out its position on a new social contract with carers and how it’s going to support them,” she said.
Brown also repeated previous commitments to raise education spending per pupil from £5,500 to £8,000 a year, signalling that spending increases for other services, such as social care, could be significantly lower than for education.
Chidgey said there was a “danger” that social care could lose out to education and that the government needed to recognise the scale of need among older people.
Liz Sayce, director of communications and policy at the Disability Rights Commission, said the government should not underestimate the importance of social care.
“Social care is as important to a prosperous society as education is and that needs to be recognised in the spending review,” she said.
● Carers who provide more than 20 hours of care a week are clustered in low-paid jobs, according to a report launched at the conference.
The Carers UK study called on the government to urgently improve support services for carers to allow them to have equal opportunities.
Carers UK head Imelda Redmond (pictured right) said working carers would be “vital to our economic future” because the UK faced a “demographic time bomb with an ageing population and a shrinking workforce”.
The “greatest failures of social policy” by successive governments, according to Gordon Brown:
● Looked-after children.
● Treatment of offenders.
● Services to disabled children.
● Personal care for older people.
● Full speech at www.labour.org.uk