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Carers UK and 91 organisations representing unpaid carers, older people, disabled adults and children have joined together to call on the Work and Pensions Secretary to recognise the financial impact Covid-19 has had on people caring round the clock for family members and friends.

The open letter, sent today to the Work and Pensions Secretary, Rt Hon Therese Coffey MP, and Chancellor, Rt Hon Rishi Sunak MP, calls for better financial support for unpaid carers who have faced rising costs during the pandemic.

Nick Baird photoCarers UK is delighted to announce that Nick Baird CMG CVO has been appointed chair elect of the national charity supporting unpaid carers.

Nick Baird will begin his role in October 2020, taking over from Professor David Grayson CBE who has served in the role since 2012.

The CIPD and University of Sheffield have released research today showing that a quarter of workers with caring responsibilites for someone who is older, disabled or seriously ill have considered giving up their job entirely, with many struggling to balance their caring role without employer support. 

The research found that 30% of working carers had reduced the hours they work because of their caring role and 36% had refused a job offer or promotion, or decided against applying for a job, because of their caring responsibilities.

28% hadn’t talked to anyone at work about their caring responsibilities. Among them, 39% said this was because they did not believe anything would change.

Carers UK has long been campaigning for working carers to be given a right to at least five days of paid care leave, something the Government is currently consulting on.

The Government has announced that, from Monday 6th July, the 2.2 million people shielding from coronavirus can gather in groups of up to six people outdoors and form a ‘support bubble’ with another household.

From Saturday 1st August the guidance will then be relaxed so clinically extremely vulnerable people will no longer be advised to shield.

Responding to the ADASS 2020 budget survey report out today, Helen Walker, Chief Executive of Carers UK, said, “We are deeply worried by the findings from the ADASS budget survey that the costs of responding to the pandemic are likely to far outweigh the money that Government has already allocated to them, leaving a gaping hole in social care finances.

  • More than 100,000 people caring unpaid for older or disabled relatives using food banks to get by
  • Almost 229,000 unpaid carers have had someone in their household go hungry during lockdown
  • Figures paint a worrying picture of unpaid carers under intolerable pressure

The Association of Directors of Adults Social Services (ADASS) has today published a survey on the response in adult social care to the Coronavirus pandemic.

Amongst other things, the survey found that 53% of Directors of Adult Social Services have seen an increase in people presenting to their council with adult social care needs as a result of carer breakdown, sickness or unavailability.

87% of Directors said they are not at all/not confident about an adequate supply of/ability to access testing for unpaid carers.

Sir Ed Davey MP will today introduce a Bill in the House of Commons to give unpaid carers more rights to flexible working, helping them balance employment with caring responsibilities.

The Equality Act 2010 currently requires employers to make ‘reasonable adjustments’ for people with disabilities to help them work, which can include physical adjustments as well as adjustments like a more flexible approach to working. Ed Davey’s Bill today would extend that requirement to include carers who are looking after disabled people.

The introduction of the Bill coincides with the Wednesday in Carers Week, the day the campaign focuses on carers’ employment.

The Scottish Government has today announced that it is proposing an additional £19.2 million investment in the Carer's Allowance Supplement.

If approved by parliament, around 83,000 eligible carers in Scotland will get an extra £230.10 through a special one-off Coronavirus Carer's Allowance Supplement in June.

As of 4th May 2020, the Government has included unpaid carers in its latest list of essential workers and those prioritised for Covid-19 testing in England.

Last night (Tuesday 28th April) the Government announced that everyone in England aged 65 and over with coronavirus symptoms can now get tested, along with symptomatic members of their households. It said symptomatic workers who are unable to work from home are also eligible for testing.

Testing of all asymptomatic NHS and social care staff and care home residents is being rolled out.  

  • Reduced or closed care services mean family members are picking up even more care for older, sick or disabled relatives
  • Carers tell charity they feel ‘overwhelmed’ and are at risk of burning out
  • Carers UK calls for Government recognition of unpaid carers’ efforts during pandemic and increase to Carer’s Allowance

The Government has this evening (Wednesday 15th April) published a plan for adult social care in response to Covid-19.

The plan will see more testing of social care staff and increase the sector’s supply of personal protective equipment. Tens of thousands more staff will be recruited to the profession, and workers in the sector will be given a ‘care’ badge so that they can identify themselves as frontline workers in this epidemic.

Furthermore, the Government has agreed to work with Public Health England and the care sector to give people the right to say goodbye to loved ones who pass away.

The Government has today (Wednesday 15th April) committed to offering Covid-19 testing for everyone who needs one in social care settings.

That includes all social care staff who need a test, all symptomatic care home residents, and all patients being discharged from hospital and going into care homes.

On 4th April 2020 the Government issued guidance on furloughing workers via the Job Retention Scheme, which sees UK workers on PAYE payroll receive at least 80% of their salary if they are not able to work during the height of the coronavirus outbreak.

Furloughing applies only if the employer’s operations have been severely affected by coronavirus, and where the person cannot work from home or flexibly.

The guidance specifically states that if someone is unable to work because they are with someone who is shielding, and they cannot work from home or flexibly, then they can be furloughed and employers can claim for them, provided they meet the other eligibility criteria.

It also explicitly states that furloughing applies to people with caring responsibilities as well. Although the examples used in the guidance refer only to parents, furloughing also includes carers who are looking after someone who depends on them for support – similar to the definition of carer under the 1998 Employment Act.

The Government last night (Tuesday 31st March) published guidance for local authorities on how they should use the new Care Act easements, created under the Coronavirus Act 2020.

The new Care Act easements mean that where local authorities have to re-prioritise their resources to respond to coronavirus, their duty to carry out full needs assessments of unpaid carers, and those needing care, does not apply if:

  • their workforce is significantly depleted, or
  • the demand on social care increases to an extent that it is no longer reasonable practicable for the local authority to comply with its Care Act duties.

Should local authorities choose to “switch on” these easements, there will also be a reduction in the number of carer support plans, and care and support plans for those in need of care, being carried out.

Families won’t have to undergo financial assessments when requesting care during this period, but the assessments and charges can be back-dated.

To help unpaid carers during the Coronavirus outbreak, the Government has introduced a new aspect to the eligibility criteria for claiming Carer’s Allowance, the main benefit for people caring 35 hours or more per week.

The new regulations, which come into force today (Monday 30th March 2020), allow unpaid carers in England and Wales to continue to claim Carer’s Allowance if they have a temporary break in caring, because they or the person they care for gets coronavirus or if they have to isolate because of it.

The Government has also confirmed that providing emotional support counts towards the Carer’s Allowance threshold of 35 hours of care a week – an issue which has been concerning many carers.

The measures will be reviewed in six months’ time.

The Government has introduced an emergency draft Bill to help the NHS and local authorities better tackle the Coronavirus.

Through this Bill, the Government will reduce the need for local authorities to carry out needs assessments of unpaid carers and those needing care. It will also reduce the number of carer support plans, and care and support plans for those in need, through this legislation.

The Government has said the measures in the Coronavirus Bill are temporary, proportionate to the threat, will only be used when strictly necessary and will be in place for as long as required to respond to the situation.

After promises by the new Government to deliver a solution for the social care crisis, the Chancellor Rishi Sunak did not mention social care in the Government's first Budget today.

  • Charity Carers UK launches free tool to help validate the skills gained through caring
  • Learning for Living supports carers to re-enter work or review their current job
  • Digital badge recognised by employers as part of professional development
  • Care Minister trials programme with unpaid carers at Carers UK head office

Today the Joseph Rowntree Foundation has published its latest report on poverty, which shows as many as a quarter of unpaid carers in the UK are living in poverty.

Other findings show:

  • Working-age carers have a higher rate of poverty than those with no caring responsibilities, and women of working age who are carers have the greatest risk of all.
  • The inability to work is the key driver for poverty among carers. In 2017/18, 36% of working-age carers were not in work, compared with 23% of non-carers.
  • If you care for 20 hours or more a week, you have a higher risk of being in poverty than if you care for fewer than 20 hours. However, to receive Carer’s Allowance you must care for 35 hours or more per week.
  • Those who care 35+ hours a week are three times less likely to be working as those caring fewer than 20 hours a week.
  • The weekly household income is £100 a week less for people who are caring.
  • Carer prevalence is at its highest among working-age adults in their 50s and early 60s, who are twice as likely to be carers as younger adults.

The Local Government Information Unit has today published its 2020 State of Local Government Finance report. It shows near universal disappointment amongst councils (97%) in the Government’s progress in delivering a sustainable funding system for local government.

The report also shows that:

  • Confidence in the sustainability of local government finance remains very low, with three quarters (74%) of councils saying they do not feel confident.
  • 1 in 10 councils (12%) say they are in danger of being unable to fulfil statutory duties this year
  • Productivity in providing publicly funded social care has declined by over 9% since 1997.
  • 98% of the senior decision-makers responding to the survey said they were disappointed in the Government’s progress in delivering a long-term social care strategy.
  • Adult social care remains the top long-term pressure.

In an interview on BBC Breakfast this morning (Tuesday 14th January 2020) the Prime Minister Boris Johnson committed to bringing forward a plan for social care reform this year and implementing it by the end of Parliament.

The Queen has today (Thursday 19th December) set out the Government's agenda in the State Opening of Parliament. In the Queen’s Speech, the new Government committed to introduce an entitlement to leave for unpaid carers juggling paid work with caring responsibilities, something which Carers UK has long been campaigning for.

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