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New Law to support unpaid carers misses the mark

Track The Act 2017-18 Report Released

Research published today by Carers Wales shows that the vast majority of unpaid carers across Wales have not benefited from legislation passed in 2014 aimed to provide them with support.

Carers Wales evidence suggests that the Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act 2014 has had limited impact on the lives of 370,000 carers in Wales, with only 3.5% of carers having a Carer’s Needs Assessment, a core element of the Act.[i]

The third annual ‘Track the Act’ briefing, which will be launched today (18th September) at the Carers Wales conference in Cardiff highlights little year on year progress, with short-term funding allocations from Welsh Government hindering effectiveness and sustainability of service provision for carers at the local level.

Claire Morgan, Director of Carers Wales commented

“Carers Wales is today launching its third ‘Track the Act’ briefing and whilst we wholeheartedly support the intentions behind the Social Services and Well-being Act the evidence presented today shows that unpaid carers are not benefitting as intended.

With only 3.5% of carers receiving a Carer’s Needs Assessment – a central provision of the Act, we are calling for an honest assessment of the obstacles and barriers currently in the system which is frustrating the ability of local government in Wales to follow the requirements of the Act. We recommend that Welsh Government’s Ministerial Advisory Group on Carers determine the blockages and obstacles that need to be overcome to achieve this policy aim.

Unpaid family carers across Wales save the welsh economy £8.1 billion pounds by providing care, lovingly and free[i]. The support they deserve, expect and are entitled to by law by local authorities is quite simply absent in the vast majority of cases.”

Under the Act, unpaid carers in Wales have equal legal rights for support as the people they look after, and it also placed a new set of duties on local authorities to meet a carer's eligible needs following a Carer’s Needs Assessment. Local authorities must also ensure that they have information, advice and assistance services in place and clearly signposted so carers can get the right information at the right time.

Claire Morgan added,

“The Minister for Children, Older People and Social Care – Huw Irranca Davies AM announced 3 national priorities to improve the lives of carers which included identifying and recognising carers, which is fundamental to carers receiving advice and information and accessing support. The vast majority of carers are not in contact with local authorities we are therefore calling for a national awareness raising programme to educate carers about their right and how to obtain the information and support they need.

We also want to see better data collection mechanisms from local authorities to better track and report how they are supporting carers, and the advice and support available in each authority area. Without this vital data we question how services can be best planned for the future“.

One respondent to the ‘Track the Act’ survey commented

“What carers do for the ones they care for ought to be recognised and supported by the authorities.  How are we supposed to have a decent quality of life and protect ourselves from the inevitable depression, loneliness and isolation that comes with being a full-time carer.  Where is the help for us as vulnerable people?”

 

[1] https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-44860079

Track The Act Report