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The Government has published an action plan for a two-year programme of work to support unpaid carers.
The plan comes ahead of the forthcoming social care green paper.
The measures include a new scheme to improve employment support for carers, promoting best practice for flexible working, to enable carers to continue to work alongside their caring role. Another element is a £500,000 Carer Innovations Fund to promote creative and innovative ways to support carers. The plan also includes funding for a review of best practice in identification of young carers and access to support.
With regard to employment, the plan outlines the need for more progress in returner programmes, flexible working and carer support. It says: “Many carers told us about the difficulties they face balancing work and performing a caring role, and at the same time how they are struggling to make ends meet leading to financial hardship putting further pressure on them. Where an employer is made aware of an employee with caring responsibilities, employers can take simple, but effective action to enable carers to balance their caring and employment responsibilities. It makes good business sense to consider what flexible working practices might help both the employer and employee.”
One in 10 adults in the UK provides unpaid care for a family member or friend who cannot cope without their help because of illness, disability, a mental health problem or an addiction. This number is set to rise due to the growing ageing population.
The plan is a cross-governmental initiative with ministers from the Government Equalities Office, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, the Department for Work and Pensions and the Department for Education having contributed in addition to the Department of Health and Social Care.
The Government has also consulted over 6,800 people, including carers, on the initiative.