Liberal Democrats are today launching a campaign for unpaid carers to be given a break, after the release of shocking figures showing that 64 per cent have had no opportunity to take time off from their responsibilities during the coronavirus pandemic.
In an open letter to Rishi Sunak, published in The Independent, Lib Dem leader Ed Davey called on the chancellor to provide immediate additional funding of £1.2bn for support services to allow a weekly break for every carer looking after a loved one at home.
He cited a survey by Carers UK which found that 81 per cent of carers are spending more time on their caring responsibilities during the pandemic, either because of increased needs or the closure or reduction of support services because of lockdown restrictions.
The survey found that 64 per cent of carers have not been able to take any breaks from their caring role during the pandemic, 74 per cent said they feel exhausted and worn out as a result and 44 per cent said they are reaching breaking point.
In his letter, Sir Ed said: “During this pandemic, millions of people have stepped up heroically to look after elderly, disabled and vulnerable people. They are doing a remarkable and important job in very difficult circumstances.
“A recent survey by Carers UK found that 81 per cent of carers are spending more time on their caring responsibilities during the pandemic, mainly because the needs of the person they are caring for have increased or because the local care services they rely on have been reduced or closed.
“The brutal combination of lockdowns, shielding requirements and reduced support services have made the pandemic especially tough.
“But now most carers are simply exhausted. Most haven’t had a single break since the pandemic started.”
He urged Mr Sunak to provide emergency funding now – or if that was not possible then in his 3 March Budget – for local authorities to provide more support.
“It is essential that services such as day centres can reopen Covid-safe now, so that carers can finally take a break while the people they care for get the support they need,” he said.
“With local authority budgets so badly overstretched, the government must provide immediate funding to make this possible – as part of a bigger emergency package to fill the funding gap in adult and children’s social care.”
Across the UK, some 6.5 million people - one in eight of the adult population – are carers, supporting a loved one who is older, disabled or seriously ill.
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