Headlines: September 4th, 2007

The Government is setting up a Standing Commission, which will report on the role of people caring for elderly or ill family members and friends. The announcement comes with a wide-ranging consultation already under way on a new deal for carers.

The Commission will report to the Secretary of State for Health. Philippa Russell, a leading expert and advocate for carers, will work with Ivan Lewis, as Minister for Carers, to take the proposal forward. Membership of the body will be announced later, but members will have to pay regard to existing and likely future fiscal and spending limits.

The Commission’s brief will mean it will ensure the views of carers are central to the development of policy. It will look at how they might be affected in the long term by issues such as changes in demography that mean carers are getting older and changes in the choices people are making about how and where they want their care. It will also consider changes in technology which help people to live independently for longer and changes within families and the locations of families with more people working or living away from those who need to be cared for.

It will also be expected to have an overview of the current consultation process and oversee the carers’ strategy, which is due to be published next year, as well as monitoring the implementation of the strategy and the new deal for carers.

The Health Secretary, Alan Johnson, said the announcement by the Prime Minister elevated the needs of carers to priority status for Government and society. “Carers are remarkable people, a lifeline for the millions who rely on their compassion and dedication. As people live longer and disabled people lead fuller lives, greater numbers of people will find themselves in the role of a carer at some stage in their life. The needs of carers are, therefore, relevant to families throughout the country,” he said.