From Keighley News, March 16th, 2018
Written by Alistair Shand
DISTRICT MPs are backing a charity's plea for the Government to give more recognition to unpaid carers. Carers' Resource has hit out at the shelving of plans for an updated national carers strategy, a document the charity says was first promised in 2014.
"A national strategy sets the tone for how the nation should treat unpaid carers – who provide help and support to anyone who could not otherwise manage because of frailty, illness or disability," said the charity's chief executive, Chris Whiley.
"Having a framework that recognises the enormous contribution carers make would mean that employers, local authorities and the NHS would be given clear directions about taking carers into consideration when planning how to use their resources.
"Three in five of us will become carers at some point in our lives and it is estimated that the economic value of the contribution made by unpaid carers in the UK is £132bn a year, which is almost the same amount as the NHS budget.
"A national strategy wouldn't immediately help the average carer, but it would go some way to changing the attitudes of decision-making bodies.
"The Government said late last year that the carers strategy would instead be encompassed into the Social Care Green Paper this summer and that a carers' action plan would be published in January, but this did not materialise.
"Our concern is that recognition of carers and their contribution will get lost in a Green Paper with such a wide remit."
Carers' Resource – which provides emotional and practical support to 16,000 unpaid carers across the Bradford district, and in the Harrogate and Skipton areas – is urging people to sign a national petition, at petition.parliament.uk/petitions/209717, which asks the Government to reconsider its decision over the strategy.
Keighley Labour MP John Grogan stresses the importance of having such a document.
"Carers come from all different backgrounds and range in age from teenagers looking after parents to people in their 90s caring for partners," he said.
"It is important that as a society we recognise their contribution and develop a national strategy to value and assist them."
Tory MP Philip Davies, whose Shipley constituency includes Cullingworth and Denholme, has previously written on behalf of the charity to ministers about the strategy and has pledged to do so again.
He visited the Carers' Resource office in December to meet carers.
Bradford South MP Judith Cummins asked a written question in Parliament last month requesting an update on when the action plan would be published.
Health and Social Care Minister Caroline Dinenage responded: "The Department will shortly be publishing its action plan on carers, setting out a cross-Government programme of targeted work to support carers over the next two years.
"We want to make sure that the strategic issues facing carers are at the heart of proposals on social care, and will therefore be considering these questions as part of the Green Paper rather than through a separate national carers strategy."