The Government’s announcement last week of a £36 billion investment into the NHS and social care is excluding millions of unpaid carers – says the Bath-based boss of one of the country’s leading charities which supports them. They’re also failing to support a body that has saved the Treasury £135 billion in the last 18 months.
The number of unpaid carers in the UK has increased by 4 million since the start of the pandemic, and David Trumper, CEO of the Bath and North East Somerset Carers’ Centre stresses that if this ‘hidden army’ within the wider social care network don’t get the support that is needed, the changes to other aspects of health and social care will simply fail.
He says that while the much-needed investment to begin healing the impacts of the pandemic is welcomed, it’s vital that unpaid carers are not left out of the conversation.
Here’s his statement in full:
“The Bath & North East Somerset Carers’ Centre welcomes the government’s £36 billion investment in the NHS and social care via the new levy announced this week.
“But while we recognise the funds promised may help the NHS tackle the backlog of cases caused by the pandemic, there is still no increase in financial support for the millions of unpaid and paid carers across the country. This is both disappointing and a missed opportunity.
“Figures show that 1 in 8 people in the UK are providing unpaid care for a friend or family member. And this number is rising at a frightening pace.
“Since the beginning of the pandemic, the number of people caring for loved ones at home has increased by more than a third, from 9.1 million to 13.6 million. Research indicates that carers have contributed the equivalent of £135 billion in care costs since the first lockdown.
“The Bath & North East Somerset Carers’ Centre supports more than 4,000 young and adult carers across the county, and we call on the government to clarify what this long-awaited review of social care offers to our unpaid carers.
“On our first reading of the government’s new social care plan, there appears to be a complete lack of financial aid for unpaid carers, particularly if the Carers’ Allowance remains at a paltry £67 per week.
“There’s also no recognition or plan to support respite care for carers, many of whom haven’t been able to take a break from caring during the pandemic.
“Finally, what practical support will be made available for unpaid carers? Will there be a light at the end of the tunnel for these families that are struggling to cope and are being pushed to breaking point?
“We need specific detail on these questions now, to enable us to support the 20,000+ unpaid carers across Bath and North East Somerset alone.
“As the government plans to heal the negative health impacts of the pandemic, it is vital that unpaid carers, of all ages, are not left out of the debate. Caring responsibilities can damage a carer’s employment, schooling and financial opportunities as well as affect their mental health.
“The contribution made by carers to the economy is unmatched, yet without funding and support from the government the demands of their caring role can often reduce their wellbeing and financial security.
“We urge the Government to make public its vague promise to offer ‘support, advice and respite’ to unpaid carers and asks, what benefit will the unacknowledged carers of our society gain from this £36 billion investment and tax increase?”