Minister for Care, Helen Whately, held a reception at No 10 Downing Street for unpaid carers last week to mark Carers Week and champion the vital work they do.
More than 30 unpaid carers, young carers and representatives of unpaid carers organisations attended the event, which also provided a forum for discussions on how to boost recognition and support for carers in the community, both by government and the public.
Minister for Care, Helen Whately, said: “Over 4 million people in England are unpaid carers. Carers Week is a time to focus on the huge efforts of carers, show appreciation and focus on what more we can do to support people caring for loved ones.
“Making sure carers are recognised in health, social care and education is a priority – along with helping people recognise themselves as carers so they can tap into local carers networks and support.
“I care about carers. I am going to hold a cross-government roundtable with other ministers to make sure that carers’ needs aren’t just recognised in social care, but in every aspect of their lives.
The reception, held in partnership with Carers UK, provided an opportunity for a wide range of carers and carer organisations, as well as others who engage with unpaid carers through their work, to gather and discuss next steps on bettering support for carers.
Addressing the reception, the minister called for communities across the UK to come together to recognise the huge contribution unpaid carers make to society.
On behalf of the charities supporting Carers Week, Helen Walker, Chief Executive of Carers UK, said: “Carers Week is an important annual opportunity to recognise the vital contribution made by the UK’s estimated 5.7 million unpaid carers looking after relatives or friends who are older, disabled or seriously ill.
“While often a rewarding role, caring for a loved one also comes with its challenges. This week we highlight just how important it is that unpaid carers are acknowledged and supported by all parts of the community.
The Downing Street reception was an exciting occasion for unpaid carers to come together and be recognised for their contribution. We welcome the Minister for Care’s commitment to a cross-government roundtable which will be an important opportunity for ministers to consider the financial and practical support many unpaid carers really need.
Led by Carers UK, this year’s Carers Week was supported by Age UK, Carers Trust, MND Association, the Lewy Body Society, Rethink Mental Illness and Oxfam.
The government says it remains committed to reforming adult social care for all, including those with caring responsibilities. In April it published the Next steps to put People at the Heart of Care plan, reflecting the enormous contribution of carers throughout and including a funding package of £25 million for unpaid carers, further details of which will be announced in due course.
For 2023 to 2024 the Better Care Fund also earmarked £327 million to support local authorities with health and care services, including providing carers with advice, support, short breaks and respite services.
In addition, the Care Quality Commission will be holding local authorities to account on adult social care through new assessment of the delivery of their Care Act 2014 duties, including those related to unpaid carers, such as undertaking an assessment of a carer’s needs for support.
To better understand how unpaid carers access support, the government is looking into new ways of collecting data through a potential new survey for unpaid carers and is working with NHS England to streamline the ways unpaid carers are registered in health records. This work means the needs of carers will be more closely monitored and will inform decisions around what more can be done to provide them with the support they need.