Landmark new rights for families caring for loved ones from 1 April 2015
As landmark new rights for families who care for someone who is older or has a disability or illness come into effect, Carers UK is calling for enough funding to be put in place to make the new rights a reality for families.
Carers UK has warmly welcomed the new rights in the Care Act 2014 which puts the rights of unpaid carers on the same legal footing as the rights of those with care needs. Stronger assessment rights in the Children and Families Act 2014 for parents caring for disabled children and young carers also come into force on the 1st of April. Previously, access to assessments was limited to those providing regular and substantial care, and there was no duty on local authorities to provide services to meet carers’ needs. Now all carers providing care can have an assessment and, if they are eligible, the person they care for or the carer themselves can have support put in place.
There are 5.4 million carers in England with nearly 2 million people taking on caring responsibilities every year. Many families struggle to provide care without the right social care to back them up. Around 80% of carers providing full-time care have suffered ill health and nearly 2 million people have given up work to care for older or disabled relatives, resulting in financial challenges in the short and longer term.
However, these welcome rights coincide with a historic shortfall in adult social care budgets, potentially undermining the positive changes that the new rights bring. The number of assessments has been falling steadily since 2008/9 – a drop of 7% in carer’s assessments over the last 7 years despite a significant growth in the number of carers. Local authorities have been provided with some funding to meet the costs of implementation including the new duties for carers.
Heléna Herklots, Chief Executive of Carers UK, said:
“These are the strongest rights ever for carers. We’ve campaigned for many years for these rights and we’re delighted to see them becoming law. They are an essential first step in improving support for carers; now we need to see the resources put behind them.
We are providing expert advice on the new rights for carers and for professionals who will be implementing them. We’d urge all families caring for a disabled, frail or ill family member or friend to find out about their new rights to an assessment from their local authority. Many carers say that they find the assessment process helpful in understanding what support might be out there and helping them to make decisions.
As soon as we see a new Government formed post-election, we’ll be urging them to put in place a sustainable and robust funding settlement in the next Comprehensive Spending Review to ensure the opportunity of these historic changes makes a difference to the lives of carers.”
The Care Act 2014 comes into force on 1 April 2015. It introduces a right to an assessment of carers’ needs if they are providing support to an adult with care and support needs. There are corresponding rights in the Children and Families Act 2014 which also comes into force on 1 April 2015 which give young and parent carers rights to an assessment. Other carers of disabled children retain rights under previous legislation.