What does the election result mean for unpaid carers?
A week on since the election and the focus is already moving on from the results to what the newly elected government actually intends to do.
So I was pleased to hear that manifesto commitments from the recent campaign have now become concrete actions outlined in The Queen’s Speech this morning. And as the new CEO of Carers Trust, that raises one very big question for me: how does the new government intend to support millions of unpaid carers across the UK?
On a positive note, the new administration has committed to extending the entitlement to leave for carers who are in full or part-time work. This is something that we already do at Carers Trust. Our people find the extra time off invaluable in making sure they can continue to balance their caring roles with working life. This fundamental commitment means unpaid carers won’t lose out in the workplace while they continue to juggle responsibilities at home and at work.
From day one in my new role as Carers Trust’s new CEO, I’ve been talking to our Network Partners, colleagues and carers about how any government should support carers. And every conversation comes back to the same pressing issue: the need to talk about social care reform.
However we slice this up, however we try to prioritise this huge task, we know the current system is broken and needs to be fixed. So it’s good to see the incoming government committing to begin cross party talks to find a long-term solution to the social care crisis within its first 100 days.
And let’s be clear, a crisis is exactly what this is. If we’re to have any chance of solving it, it’s vital that the fine rhetoric we heard during the campaign about listening to people is backed up with real action from the new team now in office. That means listening to the expert voices of people of all ages, from all backgrounds, who have lived experience of the social care system. They are, after all, fundamental to finding long-term solutions.
So our job at Carers Trust is now to ensure that the needs of the UK’s 7 million carers are put at the heart of the new government’s work to reform social care, alongside those of working age people and older people. That’s because there are no better experts in social care than carers who live and breathe the system every single day. They have the experience of navigating fragmented services, overly complicated pathways and referral routes; and they understand what creates barriers and blockages to their own wellbeing, as well as that of the person they care for. Similarly, young carers and their families know that what they really need is greater identification and support.
As I continue to visit our Network Partners and meet our teams, the one theme that continues to come up again and again is the need to ensure that carers have a voice - and that at Carers Trust we continue to work with our partners across the UK to ensure carers are in the forefront of everyone’s mind.
So, let’s get back to my original question about what the election result means for unpaid carers. And from my perspective, the answer to that question is clear: that Carers Trust will be there, with our Network Partners, to Make Carers Count.
Gareth Howells joined Carers Trust as CEO in December 2019.