Exclusive: Lib Dems to offer 'perks' to Britain's unpaid carers


Britain’s army of unpaid carers would receive a series of perks such as free hospital parking and be given greater powers in the NHS under Liberal Democrat plans to introduce “Carers’ Passports”.


The scheme, which will be included in the party’s manifesto for the next election, is aimed at improving the lives of people who spend large portions of their days looking after their loved ones, often suffering financially as a result.

The new passports would be used to identify carers to hospitals when they arrive, allowing them to bypass rules on visiting hours and visits “carers’ kitchens” so they spend less money on food and hot drinks. It could also entitle them to discounts at their local chemist or cinema.

According to the charity Carers UK, 6.5 million people across the country are currently supporting a family member who is older, disabled or seriously ill – a figure that is rapidly rising as the population ages.

Under the new proposals, the amount that people can earn before losing their £60 weekly Carer’s Allowance benefit would also be increased by a third, from £102 to £150 per week. The Lib Dems pointed out that if no action was taken, future rises in the minimum wage would push many carers above the threshold, giving them a disincentive to work.

The raised threshold would apply across the UK, while the Carers’ Passports would only apply in England and Wales as the Scottish Government has control over its health services. However, it is possible that the Scottish NHS would introduce its own version.

Norman Lamb, the Liberal Democrat Care Minister, said: “Supporting carers is essential and is only going to become more important as more people are living with long-term conditions. They are often supported by carers who are under enormous pressure, and quite often feel that they don’t get sufficient support and recognition by the health and care system.”

“A lot of carers can end up spending a fortune on visiting hospital with their loved one for appointments and having to pay every time for parking. The details about what might emerge in a Carers’ Passport are still up for discussion – but free car parking is something that could benefit carers enormously.”

Under the plans, employers would be encouraged to provide more flexible hours for carers – such as allowing them to arrive late or take longer lunch breaks – so they could fit their duties to their patients around their work commitments.

Last month, Nick Clegg announced that carers who looked after someone for more than 35 hours a week would be eligible for an annual “Carer’s Bonus” of £250, provided they had been doing so for over a year. This policy will also be included in the party’s 2015 manifesto.

Emily Holzhausen, director of policy and public affairs at Carers UK, said: “Too often families say that they feel that public services are either ignoring them or pushing them from pillar to post when they start to care for an older parent with dementia, a partner who has had a stroke or a disabled child.

“As we approach the next election, carers will be looking to all parties for a coherent approach to enabling them to look after their own health, stay financially resilient and to combine work and caring where possible.”

Life and Style
A monstrous idea? Body transplants might no longer be science fiction
Science An Italian neurosurgeon believes so - and it's not quite as implausible as it sounds, says Steve Connor
Demba Ba (right) celebrates after Besiktas win on penalties
footballThere was no happy return to the Ataturk Stadium, where the Reds famously won Champions League
Arts and Entertainment
Natural beauty: Aidan Turner stars in the new series of Poldark
arts + ents
Mia Freedman, editorial director of the Mamamia website, reads out a tweet she was sent.
arts + ents
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
Arts and Entertainment
The write stuff: masters of story-telling James Joyce, left, and Thomas Hardy
arts + ents...begging to differ, John Walsh can't even begin to number the ways
Image from a flyer at the CPAC event where Nigel Farage will be speaking
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: Bookkeeper

    £23000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This small, friendly, proactive...

    Recruitment Genius: Photographic Event Crew

    £14500 - £22800 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

    Recruitment Genius: Software Developers - .NET / ASP.NET / WebAPI / JavaScript

    Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Software Developer is required to join a lea...

    Austen Lloyd: Corporate Tax Solicitor - City

    Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: A first rate opportunity to join a top ranking...

    Day In a Page

    HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

    Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

    Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
    How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

    Time to play God

    Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
    MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

    MacGyver returns, but with a difference

    Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
    Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

    Tunnel renaissance

    Why cities are hiding roads underground
    'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

    Boys to men

    The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
    Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

    Crufts 2015

    Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
    10 best projectors

    How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

    Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
    Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

    Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

    Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
    Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

    Monaco: the making of Wenger

    Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
    Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

    Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

    Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
    In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

    In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

    This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
    'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

    Homage or plagiarism?

    'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
    Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

    A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

    Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
    A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

    Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

    A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower