During Carers Week, we are all working to make care visible and celebrate the dedication and hard work of our carers. The Minister for Disabled People Justin Tomlinson has written the below exclusively for Enable Magazine.
This pandemic has seen millions of people across our country step up to become unsung heroes.
Neighbours are keeping an eye out for vulnerable residents in their streets who have to shield, more than 750,000 people have signed up to the NHS volunteer responder scheme and people are joining community efforts to support those who need help.
Our nation’s army of carers has continued to look after friends and family members who rely on their support because of a health condition or a disability throughout this coronavirus emergency.
And no doubt, this crisis has seen many more people become a carer for someone in need.
Every year, Carer’s Week raises awareness about the important and valuable role of unpaid carers. It pays tribute to the many unpaid carers who devote themselves to looking after vulnerable people in our communities.
Their dedication doesn’t come without its challenges in normal times. Coronavirus may make their task harder or more complex, but their care and practical and emotional support have become all the more essential to those receiving it.
We understand this is a difficult time and have made changes to Carer’s Allowance, a payment to help support those with caring responsibilities.
Now, to make things easier, people can continue to claim Carer’s Allowance if they or the person they care for needs to self-isolate in line with government advice.
We’ve also made sure that providing emotional support like phone calls counts towards the Carer’s Allowance threshold of 35 hours of care a week.
Since 2010, Carer’s Allowance has increased from £53.90 to £67.25 a week, meaning almost £700 a year more for carers.
This Government is committed to supporting carers and recently launched a new Civil Service Carers Strategy to show our commitment to carers working for the civil service, and to improve understanding of and support for people mixing caring responsibilities with work.
As the MP for North Swindon, I regularly meet with and support my fantastic Swindon Carers branch. They provide invaluable support, advice and events for local carers and their families.
I join their annual Walk a Mile event (virtually this year!), opening up my community office for lots of Swindon Carers events, meetings and training sessions over the years and even managing to appear as an extra in the Swindon Young Carers film project.
Their vital work makes such a difference, and I am proud to show my support.
Just recently a DWP colleague with caring responsibilities was helped to fill out a Carer’s Passport, and that staff member now has the increased flexibility he needs to care for his mum.
All carers should have that support. We will continue to work with and listen to the charities and stakeholders who look after carers and represent their interests, so they get the help they need.
Day in and day out, year after year, carers play a hugely important role in the lives of millions of people with a health condition or disability. While local stakeholders and charities provide a vital lifeline to those giving the care, and those being looked after.
This year, I’m supporting our care heroes more than ever.