Thank you for contacting me about support for unpaid carers. The pandemic has demonstrated beyond all doubt how important carers are to our society and to our health service. As shadow minister for disabled people, this is something I care strongly for. I am immensely grateful to those who selflessly provide care to their family, friends, and neighbours.
Carers UK estimates that an additional 4.5 million people have taken on caring responsibilities following the outbreak of COVID-19 and 81% of unpaid family carers say they are spending even more time caring for relatives during the pandemic. Carers have gone above and beyond, many without access to respite breaks or support.
Carers Week, which this year took place between 7 – 13 June, is an important opportunity to recognise, value and support unpaid carers. I believe the Government must properly fund respite breaks so carers can put their own needs first, and ensure they can continue to provide vital, life-saving care and support. I know this is something that both Carers UK and the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services have been calling for from my discussions with individuals and disabled people’s organisations.
More widely, I remain concerned that until there is long-term investment in social care, unpaid carers will continue to be overwhelmed. After a decade of cuts to local government, £8 billion has been lost from adult social care budgets and too many families have been left to cope without the support they need. My Labour colleagues and I remain committed to pushing for a better deal for disabled people.
The Government first promised to publish its plans to reform social care over four years ago. Despite repeated promises, Ministers have still not brought forward any legislation, new funding, details, or timescales for reform. The recent Queen’s Speech, setting out the legislative agenda for the year ahead, was absent of any detailed plans.
I support calls for a 10 year plan of investment and reform to social care, where the Government also backs unpaid carers to look after their loved ones.
I urge the Government to avoid further delays and ensure that fixing our social care system and better supporting unpaid carers is a priority.
Thank you once again for contacting me about this important issue.