A new standing commission on carers will transform the future agenda for social care, campaigners have said. Led by learning disabilities and carers campaigner Philippa Russell and care services minister, Ivan Lewis, the commission will play a key role in developing and implementing government social care policy.
Reporting to the secretary of state for health, Alan Johnson, the commission will position the “voice of carers” at the centre of all policy developments.
In the short-term, the commission will oversee the implementation of the revised 1999 Strategy for Carers, due to be published next year, and the £33m New Deal for Carers programme.
In the long-term, it will address issues arising from a changing population of disabled people and carers. This commission’s remit will be broad and will encompass the work already carried out this year through the government’s consultation with carers.
Russell welcomed the invitation to chair the commission. She added: “The past decade has seen a growing debate about what we mean by ‘social care’, with disabled people and family carers ambitious for support services which promote independent living and enable them to lead ordinary lives.”
Russell felt the key challenges ahead revolved around changes in family structures and the population of disabled people, as well as the need for personalised services.
Prime minister Gordon Brown announced the establishment of the commission as part of the Local Government White Paper during a speech at the National Council for Voluntary Organisations in London on Monday.
Brown said: “I believe that the thinking that will be of best help for carers and those cared for will draw upon the ideas, the views and the values of the six million British carers themselves.”
NCB and Carers UK welcomed the prime minister’s decision. Imelda Redmond, chief executive of Carers UK said she was delighted that Brown had given carers such a high profile.
“Society is changing, yet many of our policies for carers were designed in the 1970s. A Standing Commission is the best way to bring in new ideas and devise new solutions,” said Redmond.
She called for a radical overhaul of the benefits system and the methods to support carers to stay in work.
The commission’s membership will be announced at a later date.
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