Thank you to all those who have contacted me about Carer’s Week and extra support for unpaid carers.
I note that the focus of this year’s Carers Week, which highlights the role of unpaid carers, was on making caring visible, valued and supported. In that spirit, I want to pay tribute to everyone who cares for a relative or friend. In my view they are unsung heroes and without them millions of people would be left to manage without any support.
I believe that transforming support for carers must be at the heart of any plan for social care reform. I also think that England’s 11 million family carers need more support in the face of the current cost of living crisis. With average energy bills rising by over 50% in the first half of 2022, doing nothing is not an option. That is why I support a windfall tax on energy companies, a step the Government has belatedly agreed to take. However by itself this is not enough. On top of this, I am calling on it to scrap VAT on home energy bills for the financial year starting in April 2022. Ministers should also provide focused and targeted support through increasing and expanding the Warm Homes Discount so that almost 10 million people can benefit from it. Taking all these steps could help those most in need save £600 a year. money that would make a real difference to people across our country.
More widely, I note that last year the Government published a White Paper with proposals for England’s 11 million family carers. In my view, the White Paper is not ambitious enough. Unpaid carers have been pushed to the limit looking after the people they love. Almost half had not had a single break for five years even before the COVID-19 pandemic struck, Yet the additional funding in the White Paper amounts to just £1.60 a year more for each unpaid carer. Families deserve so much better than this. What I believe is needed is a long-term vision to put social care on an equal footing with the NHS, at the heart of a modernised welfare state. I will continue to urge the Government to think again.
Thank you once again for contacting me about this important issue.