It is reported that, 1 in 5 carers are forced to give up work altogether due to the significant demand of their caring role. It is also reported that informal carers tend to become lifelong carers for their disabled partner or adult children. The main carer’s benefit, Carer’s Allowance, is £62.10 for those “who regularly spend at least 35 hours a week caring for someone with substantial caring needs”. This equates to a mere £1.77 per hour – well below the national minimum wage which currently stands at £7.20 for those 25 and over.
Therefore it is understandable that historically, many carers often felt that their own well-being was overlooked and under supported. Under the old law, carers did not have a legal right to receive support, merely the Local Authority could exercise their discretion to provide support if the care provided was deemed to be “regular and substantial”. The Care Act 2014, which came into force 1st April 2015, finally gives Carers the same recognition and respect as those whom they provide care for.
Often people don’t see themselves as a “carer”, but simply looking after a loved one. However the Care Act symbolises a shift in our attitude towards carers, and more importantly, it places a duty on Local Authorities to carry out a Carer’s Assessment where a carer appears to need support – irrespective of the amount or type of care provided.
Once the Assessment is complete, the Local Authority will decide whether the carer is eligible for assistance, and if so, what help might be available such as a break from caring, help with housework and support going back into employment.