MPs Debate How to Support Carers

Burstow vs Keeley, Round 1

On 1st July, MPs debated how to support carers have a life of their own in Parliament giving us the first opportunity to see Paul Burstow MP and Barbara Keeley MP, Minister and Shadow Minister for Care Services respectively, debate the issue.

Big BenBurstow began by highlighting the huge benefit that being in contact with social services can make to carers: a DH survey of 35,000 carers in contact with social services found that only 13% said they did not have the time to do anything they enjoyed whereas a Carers Week survey of 3200 carers, many of whom may not have been in contact with social services, found 76% did not think they had a life outside of caring.

From this the first of his three priorities is for more carers to be identified and for GPs to play a large role in this. His other two are to improve joint working between health, social care, and the voluntary sector, and secondly to extend the use of direct payments/personal budgets.

On cancelling Caring with Confidence (CwC), he advised that the course materials were good but they weren’t getting value for money from delivery. So, he will give the materials freely to Carers’ Centres and other providers of the programme while reinvesting the money in training for GPs on carers’ issues and other support for carers which will be announced soon.

He also advised that the DH would shortly publish an audit of Primary Care Trust support for carers, which is welcome news. Keeley replied that money for carers must be ringfenced as history has proved it is the best way to ensure that money goes where Government (& Parliament) intends… If only her previous colleagues had learnt this lesson.

Keeley expanded on this by arguing that with GPs taking on a larger role in commissioning local services and schools becoming independent of local authorities, it would be even harder to ensure that a strategic view of the needs of carers was taken in every area.

To address this, she plans to reintroduce her Carers ( Identification and Support) Private Members Bill of 2007. This would require health bodies to identify patients who are carers or have a carer and that health services took the carers’ needs into account. It would also have require schools to have a policy to identify young carers.

Responding to the CwC cancellation, Keeley pointed out that there will still be costs of actually running the course and training GPs should come out of NHS core budgets. Tony Baldry MP (Chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Carers) commented that carers will still need to be trained to help manage their caring role. He also asked the Minister to look at the Work & Pensions Select Committee’s report on carers which recommended a costs of caring payment of approximately £25-£50 p/w could be given to all carers in intensive caring roles, even if receiving the State Pension.

Other MPs spoke of the need to increase benefits for carers pointing out that proposed benefit changes will see Carer’s Allowance rise slower than before and potentially fewer carers receiving it due to fewer people they are caring for getting Disability Living Allowance (DLA is requisite for the carer to get Carer’s Allowance). Many spoke of the particular need to support young carers and it was good to hear that so many had visited their local Carers’ Centre and young carers’ services and been impressed by their work.

So, seconds out, we await round two. I’m quite looking forward to it.

Click here for the transcript of the full debate

Take Care



July 6, 2010 - Posted by | Budget, Carers Strategy, Young carers | , , , , , , , , , ,


  1. I welcome the three areas identified especially with reference to GP’s and the need for their training on Carers issues. Carers do not have an equal opportunity when visiting the surgery. Some are supported well but others are not given any support or information. GP’s do not participate in local Carers Forums or initiatives and yet they are the first port of call for Carers. Many married women do not go to the same surgery as their husbands neither GP will know who is the Carer or have knowledge of the needs of the whole family. This is a historical fact that the lack of female Doctors meant that women opted to go to different surgeries to their men folk. This situation needs to be addressed.

    Comment by Daphne Sanderson | July 6, 2010 | Reply

  2. I read the Hansard report of the debate and felt that there was a lot of the usual “pat on the head” type statements about carers and what a contribution we make. What also struck me was the lack of factual knowledge or plain misinformation that MPs have – even Tony Baldry doesn’t seem to know what is available already and who is entitled to Carers Allowance (pitiful though it is) – he seemed to think it was for working carers. MPs really let themselves down when they profess to know things but make obvious mistakes. The other great disappointment for me is when I hear ministers reiterating that they cannot dictate how local authorities spend their money – yet the Carers Grant is not always spent to support carers, when every penny should be, because of the lack of ring-fencing. As you say – Round 1 – let’s see how things progress.

    Comment by Jill Pay | July 6, 2010 | Reply

  3. I cannot believe what i am reading. I have done the CARING WITH CONFIDENCE course. It was a real help to as well as a great way of meeting other carers and supporting each other.

    Comment by Taras Kurylak | July 6, 2010 | Reply

  4. Thanks for sharing this informative post. It’s been {helpful|useful} to find out more about {a href=”>social care training and health care.

    Comment by Social Care Training | November 23, 2010 | Reply

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