Politicians of all parties are being urged to recognise that they cannot deliver support for older and disabled people without the work of an army of unpaid people. The Princess Royal Trust for Carers has estimated that 6 million people across the UK look after family members who are sick, living with a disability or who have mental health and substance abuse problems.
The Trust says those carers are saving taxpayers about 87 million pounds a year but it is concerned that they will be failed by the next Government. It is unacceptable, the Trust believes, that none of the three main political parties has given a clear indication about supporting carers or even if carers will be included in their manifestos.
Carole Cochrane, the Trust’s chief executive, said it supported the principle of free personal care at home but the current Government’s offer would not reach many of the 400,000 cares it supports. “The National Carers’ Strategy has laudable vision but, as our research uncovered, the NHS failed to spend 80% of its allocated funds on breaks for carers in 2008/09 as was intended. This must improve,” she said.
The Trust is calling on all political parties to include in their manifestos a guarantee that the National Carers’ Strategy will not be abandoned, a pledge to create Carers’ Centres in every area and a promise that every carer will have the right to breaks and higher benefits.