2013: a year of ups and downs for carers
It’s been quite a year for carers. Ups as well as downs. In the Carers Trust policy team we’ve been running from one thing to the next, trying to make sure that we cover as much as we can in this ever changing political environment.
This has meant working with other charities and partners as much as possible so that between us, carers’ views are heard and we can achieve the most change we can. Many thanks to all our friends and colleagues in the Carers Trust Network across the UK, The Care and Support Alliance, the National Young Carers Coalitions and local and national government, politicians, researchers, and other friends. A special big thanks to Carers UK, the Childrens Society and Barnardos for their partnership and support this year. Together we all achieve more than we ever could on our own.
There have been lots of downsides. The bedroom tax, which came into force this year sticks out as one of the black points. Carers and disabled people are now recognised as one of the key groups negatively impacted upon by this unfair and nonsensical policy. A recent survey found one third of disabled people asking for help with paying this have had their claims rejected. The bedroom tax means misery for people often already living on low incomes. It really does have to go.
On the upside, the Care Bill looks hopeful and will improve carers’ rights, we were delighted, after years of work, to be able to achieve the amendment to the Children and Families Bill to ensure young carers needs are recognised. Parent carers are still missed out though, so that’s a work in progress – we can’t let parent carers’ rights be left behind. Of course, it remains to be seen whether the funding available will cover the costs of implementing the Bill – rights are in many ways only as useful as the funding to make them a reality.
As a round off to this year, we’re really pleased that Carers Trust has been able to influence guidance for the Better Care Fund – NHS England’s fund to improve integration in health and social care.
The guidance states: “The £3.8bn Fund includes £130m of NHS funding for carers’ breaks. Local plans should set out the level of resource that will be dedicated to carer-specific support, including carers’ breaks, and identify how the chosen methods for supporting carers will help to meet key outcomes (e.g. reducing delayed transfers of care).”
We are delighted to have secured this as there was a real risk that this funding would be completely lost within the overall fund. We hope this will provide local carers’ organisations with levers to ensure carers have access to the support they need and to their fair share of this funding.
I can’t round the year off without mentioning our partnership with The Co-operative. What a whirlwind of activity! It has been just a joy to see so many people out there committed to raising funds for carers, and increasing the profile of carers into the bargain. It will enable us and our network partners to do so much more for a group of young people who really do deserve more. A million thanks yous to the Co-op and their marvelous staff for the dedication to supporting carers they’ve shown.
Next year will be even tougher for carers, with more local authority cuts and the ever looming likelihood of further changes to welfare benefits. We have to face these challenges head on, and with your help l promise we’ll do our very best do what we can to make sure carers get the best deal we can possibly argue for.
Thank you all for your support in 2013, and if you’re a carer, I hope you get a chance for a break over the festive period. If Santa is your thing, I hope he brings you something lovely.
Take care and see you in 2014