Carers Strategy refresh

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Work and Care an essential partnership:
Employers for Carers forum responds to updated Carers Strategy

Employers for Carers, the forum for employers seeking to support the 1 in 7 carers in their workforce, welcomes the publication by the Government today (25 November 2010) of ‘Recognised, valued and supported: Next steps for the Carers Strategy’.

A key theme running through the updated Strategy is that employment is critical to carers – whether this is about helping carers to stay in, or return to, employment or enabling young adult carers to take up employment. The Strategy contains a number of measures which will help carers balance caring with paid work including commitments on:

  • extending the right to request flexible working to all employees;
  • designing in’ flexible working arrangements in job design and recruitment;  
  • developing the first all-age careers service;
  • continuing to invest in supporting carers to return to work through Jobcentre Plus; and
  • promoting the growth of assistive living technologies which can also play a key role in enabling people to balance caring and paid work.

The Strategy also recognises that employers have a key role to play in supporting carers through offering flexibility and understanding.

Caroline Waters OBE, Director of People and Policy for BT Group and Chair of Employers for Carers said:

‘Employers for Carers is delighted that the updated Carers Strategy, published today, has put carers and employment centre stage.

'Currently three million people[1] in the UK – one in seven in every workplace - juggle paid work with unpaid caring for an ill, frail or disabled family member, friend or partner. As we are well aware as employers, many people already struggle to do this but the challenge is only set to grow as our population ages and state retirement pension ages also increase.

‘Already, as many as 1 million people[2] (1 in 6 carers) give up or cut back work to care which is a real loss both for families and employers.  Forward looking employers are already supporting the carers in their workforce to remain in, or return to, employment with demonstrable business benefits. However, we also need good public services – right across care and support, education and skills – to truly make the choice to work a reality for carers.

‘That’s why we are delighted that the Strategy has recognised that there is a business case, not only for employers, but also for the wider economy and for society, for supporting people to work and care. We welcome the publication (as an Annex to the Strategy) of the evidence base that we have prepared for supporting carers in employment[3].

‘As employers we will be looking at the Strategy in more detail over the coming weeks. But our message today is that caring is not just an issue for individuals and families, it’s an issue for employers, for Government and for our wider public services and infrastructure.

‘A generation ago we were debating similar issues about childcare services and the dilemmas facing working parents. Now it is time for the spotlight to focus on the very real challenges faced by working carers. The UK economy and UK society simply cannot afford to make people choose between work and care, it must make combining the two a real and sustainable choice’.

Recognised, valued and supported: Next steps for the Carers Strategy’ can be found here:

Carera UK's response to the Strategy can be viewed here:

[1] Who Cares Wins: The Social and Business Benefits of Supporting Working Carers (2006) Carers UK and Centre for Social Inclusion, Sheffield Hallam University

[2] One million people give up work to care – Carers Rights Day, Carers UK and Ipsos MORI (December 2009)

[3]Recognised, valued and supported: Next steps for the Carers Strategy’, Annex B: The evidence base for supporting carers in work.