Leading employers were due to meet with carers minister Ivan Lewis yesterday (21 November) to discuss what businesses would like to see in the National Strategy for Carers.
The meeting has been organised by charity Carers UK and Employers for Carers, a group of leading organisations that want to help staff who have caring responsibilities.
The national strategy looks at the vital role that carers play and provides a focus on the policies of a whole range of government departments and local government that impact on carers.
Carers UK has also published a new social contract for care, which provides a full set of policy recommendations designed to create the right environment for improving the system.
The findings are based on 1,909 responses to a national survey. There are 4.27 million carers of working age in the UK.
Imelda Redmond, chief executive of Carers UK, said: “The new social contract goes beyond the traditional view of a contract between the state and the individual. It calls for new commitments that also involve employers, local agencies and communities.
“We all have a role to play in supporting carers within our communities, as care is something that we can all expect to provide and receive at some point in our lives.”
The research shows that caring carries three main penalties: poorer health, financial strain and social exclusion. Recommendations for each include:
- More responsive services in health and social care
- A new advice, guidance and advocacy service on caring and employment
- A wider range of jobs available to those working part-time or flexibly
- Review of the integration of the tax, benefits and pensions system
- Investment in improving access to education, skills and training for carers
- Carers identified in all equalities legislation
- Welfare to work policy tailored to meet carers’ needs
- Campaign on carers and employment targeting employers and trade unions.
A report by Carers UK in September said that the value of unpaid support that carers provide has now reached £87bn a year – more than the total spend on the NHS.