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What is the Government’s approach to caring and carers? We outline recent policy initiatives.
In 2018, the Government published a cross-department action plan for a two-year programme of work to support unpaid carers.
The measures in the action plan include a new scheme to improve employment support for carers, promoting best practice for flexible working, to enable carers to continue to work alongside their caring role.
Another element is a £500,000 Carer Innovations Fund to promote creative and innovative ways to support carers outside of mainstream health and care services.
The £5m Fund was launched in June 2019 and examples of the kind of projects the fund would invest in include technology platforms – for example, to help carers to take a break from their caring responsibilities and support groups – which develop peer support groups and offer short courses to help reduce isolation.
The Government’s carer plan also includes funding for a review of best practice in identification of young carers and access to support.
With regard to employment, the plan outlines the need for more progress in returner programmes, flexible working and carer support.
It says: “Many carers told us about the difficulties they face balancing work and performing a caring role, and at the same time how they are struggling to make ends meet leading to financial hardship putting further pressure on them. Where an employer is made aware of an employee with caring responsibilities, employers can take simple, but effective action to enable carers to balance their caring and employment responsibilities. It makes good business sense to consider what flexible working practices might help both the employer and employee.”
It is estimated that one in 10 adults in the UK provides unpaid care for a family member or friend who cannot cope without their help because of illness, disability, a mental health problem or an addiction. This number is set to rise due to the growing ageing population.
The plan is a cross-governmental initiative with ministers from the Government Equalities Office, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, the Department for Work and Pensions and the Department for Education having contributed in addition to the Department of Health and Social Care.
The Government has also consulted over 6,800 people, including carers, on the initiative.
Visit the Citizens Advice website for more information on support available to carers.