Reaction to Queen's Speech

Thursday, 19 November 2009

The Speech contained a number of Bills that will impact on carers, including groundbreaking legislation to provide free care at home for those with the most severe disabilities. 

The Personal Care at Home Bill will introduce free personal care for the 280,000 people with the most critical care needs, providing help with basic tasks such as getting out of bed, washing and dressing. This is the first time that people who have savings or assets such as a house, will be entitled to free care from the state. There will also be support for around 130,000 people who need support after a spell in hospital, helping them to regain their independence through the installation of specialist equipment or other services.

The measures will be introduced from October 2010, at a cost of £670m, and will only apply to England.

Commenting on the proposals, Imelda Redmond, Chief Executive of Carers UK, said:

“Caring for someone with a severe disability caused by conditions like dementia or Parkinson’s disease can be incredibly stressful. Not only do families have to cope with the physical caring role, but they must also navigate the complicated benefits and care systems. Many families struggle to find any help, and when they do negotiate the system and are assessed as being eligible, they are told they must pay for it because they own their own home. One in five carers gives up work to care, so families face a cut in income at the same time as they have to pay for care, risking them falling into poverty.

“Carers UK has been calling for an end to means-testing for a long time, and we welcome this Bill as a stepping stone towards the longer term goal of a National Care Service. It is critical that full proposals for an overhaul of our crumbling social care system are brought forward as soon as possible. This is one of the biggest issues facing our society and we hope that all political parties will make it a central part of their manifestos for the next General Election.”

Other Bills which will impact on carers include:

  • The Health Bill will guarantee everyone aged between 40 and 74 a five-yearly health-check. Pilots for health checks for carers are already taking place, but this Bill would help ensure that all carers have access to a health check. It will also introduce legal rights for patients to receive treatment within 18 weeks of referral.
  • The Energy Bill will include help for vulnerable households with their energy bills.

Two further Bills are also being carried over from the last parliamentary session:

  • The Child Poverty Bill will enshrine the Government’s target to abolish child poverty by 2020, which will impact on many children in households affecting by caring in disability.
  • The Equality Bill will introduce new rights for carers, protecting them from being discriminated because of their caring role in the workplace and in the provision of goods and services.

Notes to Editors

1.Carers UK’s response to the Green Paper on care and support can be found here. In the response Carers UK welcomed the idea of a National Care Service, but called for further work to be done on the funding options being considered. In our consultation, carers felt strongly that care should be funded through general taxation, rather than through any of the models put forward by the Government.

2.The Conservative Party have proposed a voluntary insurance system for residential care, under which people would pay around £8,000 which would cover the costs should they need residential care. Read Carers UK’s response here.