Finding and staying in work – not an easy job

Finding a job is not easy for anyone. Once you’ve had a think about what you would like to do, completed various online personality tests on what job would suit you best and asked everyone you know what they think, you get to the task of actually searching for work. Then you have to decide where’s best to look – online, in newspapers, through friends and family, maybe contact a recruitment agency?

Amidst all of this you must start writing a CV, covering letters and completing application forms – and of course, all jobs are different and expect different things during the application process. Continue reading

March 31, 2016 Posted by | Employment, Young adult carers | Leave a comment

Party conference season

For a few weeks every autumn the news is full of stories from the party conferences of the three main parties – analysis of the leaders speeches (and what they did or maybe didn’t say), rumours of potential leadership bids from political rivals and news pundits trying to ascertain the mood of the conference delegates.

However there is much more to party conference season than the short snippets that get shown on the news. It’s a really important opportunity for us to speak to key decision makers and to talk about the needs of carers.

In September and October Carers Trust’s Policy Team attended the Labour, Conservative and Liberal Democrat Party Conferences in Manchester, Birmingham and Glasgow. Continue reading

October 22, 2014 Posted by | breaks for carers, Conservatives, David Cameron, Education, Employment, Funding, General Election, Labour, Liberal Democrats, Party Conferences | 1 Comment

Children shouldn’t be responsible for filling gaps in care

This week I’m in up in Manchester at the Labour Party conference. To kick off my Monday, I’ve been at a meeting in a carer with her mumManchester City Hall organised by Action for Children , looking at the impact the current economic situation is having on children and families  and what Labour should do if it’s elected next time. There was a great turn out and real support from MPs, including Lisa Nandy MP one of the shadow education ministers. My table was chaired by Pat Glass, MP for North West Durham, whose commitment to education issues is second to none.

Each group had case studies to discuss, and as it turns out, 3 of the tables were discussing a young carers issue. Whilst all were supportive of young carers, I was a bit worried by the feedback, which suggests to me that all of us working to support young carers need to get our messages out more clearly.

In the case study, the young carer involved was facing cuts in her local young carers service. It became clear in the room that many people don’t really have the full picture on what young carer services do. I think there’s still a perception that young carers services just provide fun activities for young people.  Some participants  were saying, well young carers services are all very well, but actually all sort of other services should be intervening to help the child, like education.

Of course, this is exactly what most young carers services do, using a whole family approach, pulling together all the organisations and professionals to make sure that the outcomes for that child and that family are as positive as possible. Sometimes the young carers worker is the only person looking at the family as a whole. They also work with schools, doing outreach work and supporting schools to identify and support young carers. Our schools resource encourages schools to put the policies and practice in place which we know can really make a difference.

However the other thing which was a bit worrying was that the people in the room didn’t seem to be asking the question of why the young person was in a caring role in the first place, and what impact that was having on them. We need to challenge the assumption that it’s OK to rely on a child or young person to provide care. Whilst most young carers want to help, and the caring they  are doing may be fine for them at the moment, this should never be at the expense of their own childhood. If the kinds or extent of caring tasks they are carrying out is having a negative impact, then this needs to be addressed urgently. It’s right that families should all pitch in to support each other, but children have a right to be children, first and foremost.

One of the problems we face is that where local authority care budgets are cut, then if someone has care needs, that care still has to be provided by someone- and it inevitably falls to friends and family to provide it. This is hard enough for adults, and we know many are struggling to cope with cuts in services and family finances. We need to make the point crystal clear that it is never acceptable to expect a child to fill the gap in care which is left when services are cut.


79% of young carers were worried about reaching 18 as there were no services to support them through that transition period while continuing to care between childhood and adulthood. Help us support young adult carers by voting for us as Co-operative’s Charity of the Year.

October 1, 2012 Posted by | Education, Employment, Health, Labour, Party Conferences, Young carers | | 3 Comments

Capping it off – the hidden hole in new carers benefits

As a Scot working south of the Border in health and care policy, it’s not often I get to work on something that affects my friends up north  just as much as my neighbours and colleagues down here in the green and pleasant  land.  It’s sad but true that when I do work on a “reserved” issue (i.e. something which the Westminster parliament keeps power over) then it’s never good news because it’s always about cutting welfare benefits.  I should probably say “reforming” rather than “cutting”  of course, but from my experience, it’s  not often  about more money going in and very often more money being taken away.

You might have heard  last year that  Government said they’d leave Carers Allowance alone, for the time being at least . Well this was good news. Of course, it’s nothing like enough money. £58.45 a week (the amount for 2012/13) is not exactly a king’s ransom for people who are providing 35 plus hours of caring a week. But still it’s better than nothing.  And in general the new Universal Credit should be beneficial to carers who are on lower incomes, because instead of losing all your Carers Allowance if you go over  the £100 earnings threshold, there will be a taper – as the amount you earn goes up, the amount of benefit goes down. Less of a cliff edge has got to be a good thing.

But one thing seems to have been overlooked. Have you heard about the benefit cap? It’s been in the news quite a bit recently. Basically the Government is saying that there should be a limit on how much any one family can get from the state in benefits – £500 a week for families. Sounds like a lot, but  especially in the south east, you don’t get a lot for that for example if you have kids and need a three or four bedroom place to live. It won’t apply if you have a council house, but I seem to remember we sold most of them.

The cap won’t apply to carers who live with someone on Personal Independence Payment (PIP)  or one or two other benefits which are exempt. However, there are carers who don’t live with the person they care for. If, for example, you care for your sister who has  multiple sclerosis who lives in the next street.  Then, in order to mimic work patterns, your benefits could be capped as we are all supposed to be better off in work than out of it and if you want more money than this you better get out and earn it.  So, if you live in private rented accommodation, you might find your housing benefit reduced… meaning you can’t afford the rent and  have to move… meaning who cares for your sister in the next street?

The Government knows about this but it’s just not a big enough issue for them to want to fix it seems. I think it’s a massive issue. The very fact that the cap is there to “make work pay” and encourage people to go to work,  and it can possibly be applied to this group of people who are fully occupied in  difficult caring roles  and therefore saving the state millions of pounds a year, is pretty insulting.  What about making caring pay? Anyone feel a letter to an MP coming on?

February 21, 2012 Posted by | Carer's Allowance, Employment, Social Care | | 3 Comments

Are carers in employment getting adequate support?

My previous blog reported that the more you earn, the less care you are likely to provide. This one considers a report by Employers for Carers which found that only 20% of carers who are also in employment believe they receive adequate support, in and outside of the workplace, to help them manage caring and working.

One of the interesting things in the report is the difference between what support employers say is available to support carers, and what support carers say is available. For instance, 25% of carers said they had flexible leave arrangements but 78% of employers said they provided this for carers. 43% of carers said they could access flexible working whilst 95% of employers said they offered this.

Of course, it could be that a disproportionate amount of carers surveyed work for one of the employers that do not offer these but I think that is unlikely and that there is a real disparity between what employers say is on offer and what support carers are accessing. This could be due to carers not being identified in the workplace, or reluctant to identify themselves and request such options.

One thing that concerns me is that people at different levels within the same organisation can access different types of support. For instance, shift workers doing manual labour will find it harder to work from home or choose compressed hours than an office based worker. And remember, carers are more likely to be in lower wage brackets.

The heartening thing for me is that employers who took part in the survey said they want to do more to support carers in their workplaces. Three-quarters wanted to work with external services to improve support for carers in their workplace and help them access information. Many employers are also setting up employee networks for carers in their organisation which can provide useful peer support.

I think carers’ charities should be looking at working in workplaces but resources are already stretched with funding cuts. Employers may have to consider investing in purchasing support services for carers in their workplace if they want it. And it may be worth it as 43% of carers surveyed said their work performance had declined because of the caring pressures on them.

With nearly 3m carers also in employment, it’s a challenge we can’t ignore.


September 7, 2011 Posted by | Benefits, Employment | 8 Comments