Welfare groups back ‘breaks for carers’ funding

August 21, 2008

Organisations have welcomed a £255 million package from the government to improve the lives of carers.

The bulk of the money, £150 million, will expand provision for short breaks for carers. Funding will also be put towards helping carers to enter or return to the job market, annual health checks and educating GPs to understand the pressures on carers' own health.

Announcing the measures, Health Minister Ivan Lewis said that over the next decade, "elder care will become the new childcare and it is essential our policies properly meet the scale of the challenge.

"Thousands of carers have told us they want a support system that is on their side and the right to a life of their own alongside their caring responsibilities."

Jewish Care's head of family carers Sonia Douek was pleased that focus was being placed on the physical toll on carers - "this bears out research we undertook two years ago when we surveyed 2,500 carers. We hope this increased funding will actually reach providers such as Jewish Care so that the community can continue to receive culturally sensitive services."

As for employment issues, Mrs Douek observed that although the government's sentiments were commendable, "people cannot request flexible working arrangements unless they are already in employment".

Norwood's director of operational services, David Harris, said the state's commitment "builds upon the support being made available to families with disabled children. Backing the role of carers in this way will help people choose the best support arrangements from within and beyond their own families, friends and communities".

Rochelle Broman, marketing manager at the Manchester Fed, said the charity had "first-hand experience of how important it is to support carers. Without them, many more people would have no option but to go into a residential home.

"But the Fed believes it essential that the extra money the government is putting into breaks for carers can be used flexibly to meet specific religious and cultural requirements."

At Moorcare - a support service funded by Leeds Jewish Welfare Board - service manager Alison Moorcock said: "It is reassuring that carers are at last being appreciated at the highest level.

"The holiday break provided by the carers' strategy helps to stop these vital informal care arrangements from breaking down - and prevents unnecessary hospital and nursing home admissions."

Last updated: 10:06am, August 27 2008