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.”

Arts and Entertainment
Joel Edgerton, John Turturro and Christian Bale in Exodus: Gods and Kings
film
Arts and Entertainment
Brendan O'Carroll as Agnes Brown in the 2014 Mrs Brown's Boys Christmas special
tvCould Mrs Brown's Boys have taken lead for second year?
News
Members and supporters of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) community walk with a rainbow flag during a rally in July
news
Sport
footballLive! Chelsea vs West Ham kicked off 10 Boxing Day matches, with Arsenal vs QPR closing the action
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Jack O'Connell stars as Louis Zamperini in Angelina Jolie's Unbroken
film review... even if Jack O'Connell is excellent
Arts and Entertainment
Madonna is not in Twitter's good books after describing her album leak as 'artistic rape and terrorism'
music14 more 'Rebel Heart' tracks leaked including Pharrell Williams collaboration
News
news
Arts and Entertainment
Wolf (Nathan McMullen), Ian (Dan Starky), The Doctor (Peter Capaldi), Clara (Jenna Coleman), Santa Claus (Nick Frost) in the Doctor Who Christmas Special (BBC/Photographer: David Venni)
tvOur review of the Doctor Who Christmas Special
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

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

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executive- City of London, Old Street

    £40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executiv...

    Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager

    £40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: An international organisa...

    Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwickshire

    £25000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwicksh...

    Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager/Marketing Controller (Financial Services)

    £70000 - £75000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager/Marketi...

    Day In a Page

    A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

    Christmas without hope

    Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
    After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

    The 'Black Museum'

    After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
    No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

    No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

    Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
    Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

    Chilly Christmas

    Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
    Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
    Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

    'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

    Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
    Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

    Ed Balls interview

    'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
    He's behind you, dude!

    US stars in UK panto

    From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
    Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

    Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

    What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
    Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

    Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

    Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

    Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
    Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

    Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

    Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
    Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

    Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
    Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

    Autism-friendly theatre

    Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all