The biggest problem with carers today is that many don’t even realise they are one. Many think of themselves as simply mums, dads, brothers, daughters, wife, partners and friends. In other words, close related people that are caring for their loved ones.
Did you know that one in every eight adults in the UK is a carer? Or that every year, over 2 million people become carers for the first time without even realising they’ve become a carer?
With that in mind, every year Carers UK launches a guide to inform these people that they are entitled to financial and practical help. The guide is an overview of carer’s entitlements with all the basics new carers need to get started. But mainly the guide wants to pass the message to carers that they are not alone.
“I hope this guide will reassure you that you are not alone and help you prepare for what might lie ahead.” Don Brereton, Chair of Carers UK
The guide is more like a booklet and highlights 7 key steps every carer should take in order to get all the support they are entitled to. Whether they are new to caring or been looking after someone for a long time.
You can download the guide here or ask for free copies by calling this number 0808 808 7777.
The first of October 2010 will be marked as a historical day for UK carers. Thanks to Equality Act 2010, millions of unpaid carers gained new rights; they cannot be directly discriminated against or harassed because they are caring for disabled people.
The Equality Bill introduces four important new opportunities for carers:
• Socio-economic disadvantage
Clause 1 requires public authorities to have due regard to socio- economic disadvantage when exercising strategic planning functions.
• Associative discrimination
The Bill recognises the concept of ‘associative’ discrimination in relation to disabled
people – and widens the impact of the Coleman decision (clause 13 of the Bill) to make unlawful such discrimination, not only in relation to a person’s employment, but also in relation to goods, services, housing and other fields.
• Indirect discrimination
The Bill contains an explicit provision relating to indirect discrimination and disabled
People (clause 19) – which is not found in the Disability Discrimination Act 1995. Indirect discrimination occurs where an apparently neutral provision, criterion or practice puts, or would put, people with a protected characteristic (i.e. due to disability or sex or race etc) at a particular disadvantage compared with other people, unless that provision, criterion or practice can be objectively justified as being a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim. A problem with this formulation is that there is a need to establish a comparator – i.e. a person who has not got the protected characteristic, and would not be adversely affected. An example is a height restriction for people wanting to enter the police force. This was neutral (i.e. it affected men and women alike) but because women are generally shorter than men, this provision adversely affected more of them than men.
• Impact assessments
The Bill (clause 145) extends the current duty on public bodies – such as local authorities and the NHS – to ensure that their policies and practices do not have an adverse impact on disabled (and other) persons. This duty is not merely negative: it includes an obligation to ensure that policies and practices are designed to eliminate discrimination, harassment and victimisation and to advance equality of opportunity and foster good relations. This includes an obligation to consider the impact of their policies and practices because of the concept of ‘associative’ discrimination.
The Government has published the White Paper Building the National Care Service. This is a huge step towards creating a care and support system for all adults in England. The National Care Service will be fair for all and offer services free when people need them.
On the same day Imelda Redmond CBE, Chief Executive of Carers UK commented on the Government’s White Paper:
“We warmly welcome these bold plans for a National Care Service of the kind that older and disabled people, their families and carers have been calling for. These proposals promise to end the social care postcode lottery and protect families from the crippling costs of care which they currently see draining their savings and putting at risk family homes.
Family carers desperately need these reforms as many are pushed to breaking point due to lack of support from the current system. This White Paper places carers at the centre of social care – recognising that a new National Care Service will not take care away from families, but would support them.
The government has recognised that the demographic challenge of an ageing population makes a National Care Service an economic imperative. Our current care system cannot meet families’ needs and has forced over 1 million people to give up work to care. Government has set out a positive vision in which the social care system supports individuals to juggle work with caring for ill or disabled relatives.
We also welcome plans for a new commission to decide how individuals pay into the proposed social insurance scheme. Given the political point scoring on these issues in recent weeks, it is vital that these questions are dealt with on a consensual basis. Although the vision is clear and ambitious, the White Paper in itself does not contain enough detail on the question of funding. The promised commission on funding must be brought forward as a matter of urgency, to deliver on the specifics, and give families confidence that the sort of care system they need will become a reality.
This White Paper sets social care at centre stage as the election looms and we look forward to care and support forming a key plank in all political parties’ manifestos.”
For those of you that would like to watch the White Paper’s launch event that happened on the 30th of March 2010 visit this link or if you prefer to read the White Paper and supporting documents please visit this link.
In 2010 social care is in crisis and in need of urgent reform. The main carers’ benefit is worth just £1.52 an hour, well short of the minimum wage of £5.73. (and even less than that if you’re retired, disabled or on a low income).
Carers are paying a heavy price – no money, no breaks, many forced to give up work and a constant battle for support. Some are pushed to the point of collapse.
The government has invested in carers’ breaks and other support for carers. But this falls far short of the action needed now if it is to make good on its promise that by 2018 carers will have a life of their own and not be forced into financial hardship.
For the first time, it will be possible for an unpaid carer looking after a loved one to build up a full basic State Pension based entirely on National Insurance credits. The Department for Work and Pensions and Carers UK are calling on the 4.7 million carers across the country to find out if they could benefit.
April 2010 will see the introduction of the new Carer’s Credit that will count towards their basic and second State Pension. People may not recognise the help they give unpaid to a disabled, ill or family member as caring but today they are being encouraged to come forward if they are looking after someone for at least twenty hours a week.
Minister of State for Pensions and Ageing Society Angela Eagle said: “We want people to tell us if they, or people they know, are looking after somebody for more than 20 hours a week so they benefit from this change. The State Pension is everyone’s foundation of financial security in later life and therefore, it’s only right that caring for others should be counted towards it.”
The natural focus for most carers is to meet the immediate needs of their loved one rather than on planning their own financial future. Results by the Ipsos MORI survey found less than one in five of the carers (19%) pay regularly into savings and only one in seven felt they had a comfortable amount put aside for the future. It also revealed almost half (46%) the carers it questioned are worried about their financial future and just over a third (36%)have dipped into savings as a result of caring.
Imelda Redmond, Chief Executive of Carers UK said: “We know saving for your retirement years won’t be your priority when you suddenly find yourself caring for a loved one. But there are simple steps you can take to secure your State Pension that will protect your long-term future as you care for others.”
If you are caring for someone for 20 hours or more a week you could get the new Carer’s Credit that will count towards your State Pension. Find out if you qualify by visiting www.direct.gov.uk/pensions or by calling 0800 678 1132.
Source: Carers UK
The Carers UK campaign, Caring for Carers, just got the attention it needed as top politicians are calling for an urgent debate to discuss and immediate extra aid for carers. Nearly 60 MPs from all three main political parties have signed a Commons motion calling for extra aid for carers.
Dr Hywel Francis, Labour MP who chairs the All Party Parliamentary Group on Carers, said:
“Carers need to be treated with more dignity and respect.”
Tory MP Peter Bottomley added:
“I’m glad The Mirror is campaigning.”
In the National Strategy for Carers the government pledged that, by 2018 ‘carers will be supported so that they are not forced into financial hardship by their caring role.’
Carers cannot wait another 9 years, that is why Carers UK is asking for your help, head over to the Carers Poverty Charter page and complete the form to show your support to the campaign.
Carers UK’s poverty charter is backed by Alzheimer’s Society, Citizens Advice, Contact a Family, Counsel and Care, Crossroads Caring for Carers, Every Disabled Child Matters, for dementia, Mencap, Macmillan Cancer, Motor Neurone Disease Society, National Autistic Society, Oxfam, Parkinson’s Disease Society, Princess Royal Trust for Carers, Rethink, USDAW and Vitalise.
It is estimated that Britain has 6 million carers – usually unpaid relatives and friends who look after an ill, frail or disabled person and the majority of these people do not realise that they are carers and are entitled to help from the State and other sources, reports Carers UK.
Any person over 16, who cares for someone that receives a disability payment for at least 35 hours a week and does not earn more than £95 a week in other work.
The State Allowance can only be claimed by one carer per person, and the same amount is paid regardless of the number of people that a carer looks after.
Besides the monetary help, the government is launching a new initiative to help carers throughout the UK, the initiative has been named Caring with Confidence and provides free group advice sessions for carers.
Sessions will be starting over the next few weeks in areas where information for carers is most lacking, exact locations haven’t yet being revealed. More information can be obtained via the phone number 0800 8492349.
The initiative’s website offers online study sessions for carers, and carers can order a series of free self-study workbooks on 01223 400393.
Caring for a relative can be a stressful, life consuming task which can make an alternative career very difficult to manage; we would be interested in your views on the state allowance for carers.