Gordon Brown has made it clear that better supporting our carers is up there with tackling terrorism or promoting economic stability. And a new strategy to improve support and recognition for carers will be launched next year.
With this in mind, this edition of Community Care is dedicated to exploring opinions on the way forward, including those of three ministers.
While they talk up the impact of the carers allowance, the right to request flexible working and pension credits, even they acknowledge that carers continue to struggle.
More needs to be done to tackle high unemployment among carers, improve access to health and social services and prevent social exclusion.
Some of this could be achieved through a social contract for care, which Carers UK are calling for. This would involve agencies co-ordinating and promoting carers’ rights across our whole social fabric – from education and employment services to housing and leisure.
But key actions, such as increasing the carers allowance or improving access to care assessments, are going to take additional resource.
You only have to look at the results of our exclusive research on young carers to realise how unsupported by social services many of them are. Few have contact with social workers, and many carers are uncertain of social workers’ role and support available.
It all lends support to the call for a national carers champion to improve focus, representation, awareness and cross-government co-ordination.
Carers Special issue
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