MP calls for greater carer assistance
Published on 21 June 2013 11:30 AM
Carers should be viewed as an asset to the economy, not a burden, a former health minister has declared.
Liberal Democrat Paul Burstow says more needs to be done to ensure carers receive the necessary support required to carry out their role.
Reports suggest 3 million people try to balance caring responsibilities with paid work, not to mention the physical and emotional stresses that come with looking after someone.
These pressures have forced 2.3 million individuals to give up work so they can fulfil their care duties, resulting in the UK economy losing £1.3 billion a year from tax revenues and benefits.
The figure, devised by the London School of Economics, rises to £5.3 billion a year when lost earnings are also taken into consideration.
'This is simply not a cost the UK can continue to bear as a consequence of a failure to act to put the right safeguards, support and systems in place to enable carers to stay in employment,' said Mr Burstow.
'There is now an urgent need and a clear case to look again at caring and re-frame the debate, not as about the burden on the economy but as an asset and an opportunity.
'We need to begin to look at caring in the same way that we view childcare support and services.'
Over-85 population set to double by 2030
With the over-85s population set to double in size by 2030, he claims it is imperative that carers are given greater flexibility at work.
If not, growing numbers of sandwich carers will be unable to juggle paid work with the demands of caring for their children and older relatives.
Mr Burstow said he was not convinced that carers were being provided with short breaks to reduce their stress levels, despite the Government making available £400 million over 4 years for this purpose in 2010.
He added that progress had been slow because the NHS does not believe it is worth spending this money on carers.
Copyright Press Association 2013