The Labour Party will today pledge a new package of support to help England’s 5.4 million unpaid family carers, it has been announced.
Under a future Labour majority Government, the NHS would be duty-bound to identify family carers in need of support and identify problems before they escalate.
Family carers struggling with the pressures of looking after elderly and disabled relatives will be given the right to request an ‘annual health check’.
Labour would also ring-fence funding that allows carers to take breaks away from caring for loved-ones, and the money would go straight to carers themselves.
Employers, trade unions and carers organisations would be consulted on how to improve flexible working hours, including measures to help family carers take time away from work in the event of a short-term crisis.
Family carers struggling with transport costs will be included in groups who can be eligible for hospital car parking concessions.
Labour say they would create a ‘single point of contact’, so that family carers would not have to ‘battle different parts of the system’ to get the support they desperately need.
Labour has also reiterated their pledge to scrap the deeply controversial ‘bedroom tax’, which they claim hits 60,000 family carers and penalises those who need a spare room.
Liz Kendall MP, Shadow Minister for Care and Older People, said:
“Family life is changing and more and more of us are looking after elderly or disabled relatives. This can often be a real struggle and many families feel pushed to breaking point.
“Too often carers have to battle all the different services to try and get the support they need. One in three family carers who are in paid work have to give up their job or reduce their hours because they can’t get the right help to care or flexible working hours.
“Most unpaid carers don’t have enough time to pay attention to their own health, and many don’t come forward for help or get any breaks. Often people don’t even see themselves as being a carer – they’re just a son, daughter, husband, wife or partner trying to look after the person they love.
“It’s not right that people who do so much get so little in return. We need to improve support for families, and Labour’s package of measures will make a real and practical difference to their lives.”