Councils charging for support puts carers’ wellbeing at risk
From time to time, every carer needs support to help them look after the person they are caring for.
Sometimes that will mean getting equipment installed in their home so that they can meet the needs of the person they support. Other times it might mean calling in home help so that they can keep up with their housework.
The importance of these services cannot be overstated. They mean that carers can provide the best support possible to their friend or family member whilst maintaining their own health.
That is why Carers Trust was so alarmed to hear that a number of councils have started charging carers who access these support services. We don’t believe any carer should have to pay for the services that enable them to care for someone who is in need.
In July we launched an investigation to find out how many councils are charging carers and how many other councils might be considering introducing charges in the near future.
Our findings, presented in a brand new report published today, offer a mixed bag.
On the one hand we were pleased to discover that only 8 councils of the 147 we contacted are currently charging carers. It just goes to show that the majority of councils recognise the vital role that unpaid carers perform and the potentially damaging impact that charging carers could have on their wellbeing and on their ability to carry-on caring.
However, we were concerned to discover that 23 councils will be debating the introduction of charges in the next 12 months.
Thankfully, we still have time to convince these councils – and others – not to introduce charges.
Carers Trust will be contacting each of the 23 councils and explaining exactly why we think charging carers is such a bad idea.
Firstly, and fundamentally, we think charging is wrong in principle. We believe the role and importance of unpaid carers needs to be celebrated and they should be given more, not less support.
Secondly, charging puts carers at financial risk. We know that carers are already more likely than average to face financial difficulties. Expecting cares to pay for essential support services will only increase those pressures.
Finally, charging risks discouraging carers from accessing the support they need, meaning they may be less able to continue caring. This country’s social care system relies on the UK’s 7 million unpaid carers. If carers are put off applying for the support they need to continue caring, they are more likely to become physically or mentally unwell, or less able to continue caring in the long term. This means more people in need will have to depend on our stretched health and social care services.
With councils just starting the process of deciding on their budgets for the coming year, we believe now is the perfect opportunity to get in and make the case for supporting carers.
We’ll continue to keep you updated on the progress of our campaign but in the meantime if you have any questions about charging or how you can support us in preventing councils from charging carers, do contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org.
Matt Hawkins is Policy and Campaigns Officer at Carers Trust