Thousands of carers are set to benefit from improved employment support giving them the chance to combine paid work with caring.
Jobcentre Plus customers with caring responsibilities will also be able to access replacement care funding while they are taking part in employment training. This has been brought forward from its planned implementation of 2011.
Previously, people who claimed carers allowance were unable to access Jobcentre Plus employment programmes.
Want to work
Yvette Cooper, secretary of state for work and pensions, said: “Many carers really want to work, but find it hard to get the support or flexible work they need, to combine it with caring for relatives.
“We know that one in five carers have left or turned down a job because of their caring responsibilities. That is why it’s so important to give carers extra help, advice, funding for replacement or respite care and easier access to training too.”
Imelda Redmond, chief executive of Carers UK, said: “Replacement care to allow access to training and support, and staff with the expertise to help with the real challenges that face those trying to juggle work and care, are big steps towards giving carers new opportunities to stay in or return to work.”
However, a long-promised review of the wider issue of carers’ benefits is still to be carried out. The DWP has not set out a timetable for doing so, despite widespread concern that current provision is inadequate.
A survey of 350 carers by Carers UK, which organised the recent Carers’ Rights Day, found more than one-third of carers do not receive the benefits to which they are entitled because they are unaware that they can claim them.
The extra support announced includes:
• Ensuring carers have access to appropriate employment programmes – including one-to-one work-focused support.
• Funding for replacement care for participation in approved activities.
• A care partnership manager in every Jobcentre Plus district. These have been introduced to build partnerships with organisations, assess demand for support and encourage development of local services, such as replacement care.
• Specialist training for advisers who work with carers.