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Our five election asks for carers

Carer sitting on sofa with daughter

The Princess Royal Trust for Carers has produced five key election asks for carers today, following confirmation from the Prime Minister Gordon Brown that the UK general election will be held on 6th May.

Carers can challenge election campaigners and candidates in their area with the five pledges in the run-up to the election in May.

Included in The Trust's asks are pledges to implement The National Carers Strategy and spare the Carers Grant from cuts that are widely expected following the election.

The importance of flexible working and more respite care is also emphasised in the pledges as well as better support for young carers in school and young adult carers in higher education.

The five asks for carers are set out in full below:

1. The Carers Strategy must continue through the next Parliament
The Government has only begun to implement this 10 year strategy to help carers access respite care, receive training to get back to work, and support carers to manage their caring role. Carers need to know that all parties will commit to continuing this support throughout the next Parliament. £255m was committed to delivering the Carers Strategy (in England) in 2009/11; not repeating this funding will undo the progress made.

2. Don’t cut the Carers Grant
Local authorities will receive £256m (England) in April 2010 to support carers. Carers need to know that this Carers Grant to local authorities will continue after 2011. Every area should have specialist carers’ services providing information, training, advice, emotional support and respite. Not every area currently has this so we need to keep the Carers Grant to make sure we continue the drive towards supporting carers everywhere.

3. No carer in poverty
Too many carers have to scrape by on a Carer’s Allowance of £53.10 per week. One third of carers cut back on food or struggle to pay essential fuel bills, and financial worries harm their health and ability to care. Employment rights and flexible working need to be promoted with more respite care available to allow carers to combine work and care. If work is not an option, benefits should be higher and more accessible to prevent carers living in poverty.

4. Help young adult carers in further education
Carers lose their Carer’s Allowance if they are enrolled in a full-time course (even if only 10 hours of classes) or are doing more than 21 hours of training per week. Carers hoping to go to university face the awful choice of giving up their chance of a career because their family relies on their Carer’s Allowance for income.

5. Support young carers in school
We need adult and children’s services working together to support the whole family and not leaving young carers in isolation. Many young carers remain hidden from services and lose their childhood and chance to do well at school. Every school should have a young carer’s policy and lead member of staff to help staff identify and support pupils who are young carers.

For full comment and coverage of the General Election 2010 check our blog for updates or follow The Trust on Twitter.