A Conservative MP has called for action after a manifesto pledge on paid carer’s leave was absent from this week’s Queen’s Speech.
In the debate following the state opening of parliament on Tuesday, Dame Caroline Dinenage, MP for Gosport, asked for confirmation on when the government would finally deliver the promised legislation.
She told Paul Scully, minister for small business, consumers and labour markets, that carers were upset to hear that the legislation had not been prioritised.
She said: “Informal carers across the country will have been dismayed to hear that the legislation to introduce the right to unpaid carer’s leave was not in the Queen’s Speech this week.
“It was a 2019 manifesto commitment and is actually a very key pillar of the government’s adult social care reform.”
Scully responded: “It remains a commitment of this Government to be able to support unpaid carers who do an amazing job at supporting their families but, importantly, supporting the economy and supporting other areas of social care by the work that they do, the commitment that they give their families, but we do remain committed to unpaid carer’s leave and, indeed, we will introduce that when parliamentary time allows.”
The government consulted on the possibility of a week’s leave for unpaid carers in 2020 and said the legislation would be introduced “when parliamentary time allows”.
The right would have formed one of the elements of the delayed employment bill, which was also notably absent from the speech.
Speaking after the debate Dinenage said: “It’s disappointing that the minister could not be more specific about the timings of this important legislation.
“So much of our healthcare system relies upon the goodwill and sacrifice of unpaid carers. I will continue to push for this important promise to be delivered.”
Helen Walker, chief executive of Carers UK, said the charity was “very disappointed” that the government did not move forward with the legislation, estimating that unpaid carers’ work during the pandemic was worth around £530 million per day.
She said: “This would have made a difference to millions of people juggling work and caring for family members, knowing that they had that option to take time off for relatives, albeit unpaid, if they needed to and we’ve urged the government to make it a priority for families who need to stay in work.”