The Carers’ Centre respond to the UK government’s new social care levy
The government has proposed plans for a Health and Social Care Levy. They are set to inject £36 billion into the NHS and the caring industry over the next few years, through increased taxes.
We welcome the government’s £36 billion investment in the NHS and social care via the new levy announced this week.
But while we recognise the funds promised may help the NHS tackle the backlog of cases caused by the pandemic, there is still no increase in financial support for the millions of unpaid and paid carers across the country. This is both disappointing and a missed opportunity.
Figures show that 1 in 8 people in the UK are providing unpaid care for a friend or family member. And this number is rising at a frightening pace.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, the number of people caring for loved ones at home has increased by more than a third, from 9.1 million to 13.6 million. Research indicates that carers have contributed the equivalent of £135 billion in care costs since the first lockdown.
We support more than 4,000 young and adult carers across the county, and we call on the government to clarify what this long-awaited review of social care offers to our unpaid carers.
On our first reading of the government’s new social care plan, there appears to be a complete lack of financial aid for unpaid carers, particularly if the Carers’ Allowance remains at a paltry £67 per week.
There is also no recognition or plan to support respite care for carers, many of whom haven’t been able to take a break from caring during the pandemic.
Finally, what practical support will be made available for unpaid carers? Will there be a light at the end of the tunnel for these families that are struggling to cope and are being pushed to breaking point?
We need specific detail on these questions now, to enable us to support the 20,000+ unpaid carers across Bath and North East Somerset alone.
As the government plans to heal the negative health impacts of the pandemic, it is vital that unpaid carers, of all ages, are not left out of the debate. Caring responsibilities can damage a carer’s employment, schooling and financial opportunities as well as affect their mental health.
The contribution made by carers to the economy is unmatched, yet without funding and support from the government the demands of their caring role can often reduce their wellbeing and financial security.
We urge the government to make public its vague promise to offer 'support, advice and respite’ to unpaid carers and ask, what benefit will the unacknowledged carers of our society gain from this £36 billion investment and tax increase?