Big Ben and Houses of Parliament in London, England

Carers pay the heavy price of failing legislation

A year on from the introduction of the Care Act 2014, a review by the UK’s largest charity for unpaid carers has found that the new act has made little or no difference to the 5.4 million carers in England.

The review commissioned by the Carers Trust, led by former care minister Paul Burstow, involved a number of experts and advisors. Dr Mary Larkin, Senior Lecture at The Open University, was one member of the expert panel. She was selected for her national and international reputation in the field of carer research. She is also a member of the Standing Commission of Carers and the chair of the Standing Commission on Carers Research and Evidence Group.

The Care Act 2014

The new Care Act came into force on 1 April 2015 and achieves parity between carers and those they care for. These new rights included taking the carer’s health and wellbeing, family relationships and their need to balance their home life with their education or work. If they are found to be eligible they are entitled to support, sometimes funded by their local authority. In addition, all local authorities must provide advice and information and prevent carers’ needs from getting worse.

Dr Mary Larkin, Senior Lecturer at The Open University

Dr Mary Larkin, Senior Lecturer at The Open University

Speaking at the parliamentary launch of the review Dr Larkin said, “The Care Act is a transformative piece of legislation that puts carers on an equal legal footing with those with care needs for the first time. This review commission wanted to look at the impact on carers of the Care Act one year on. There are those who say that this is too early but it provides an essential measure of progress to date that can inform future implementation of the care act.”

“We know all too well that carers pay a heavy price in terms of their own wellbeing and income to support those in our society with care needs. Without carers health and social care is unsustainable. This review will help ensure that the Care Act really does raise the bar for carers as it was intended to do.”

“Its recommendations and good practice can inform the next steps of the implementation of the Care Act. But most importantly it shows that more investment is needed to fully implement the new legal rights enshrined in the Care Act for carers.”

Expert Panel and Advisors

Other member of the panel included Beth Britton, Freelance Campaigner and Consultant, Writer and Blogger specialising in issues affecting older people; Gail Scott-Spicer, Chief Executive Officer, Carers

Photograph of Panel of Experts and Advisors

Left to right: Dr Mary Larkin, Open University; Barbara Keeley MP; Rt Honourable Paul Burstow; Gail Scott-Spicer CEO Carers Trust; Professor Nigel Sparrow; Laura Bennett, Policy Manager Carers Trust and Beth Britton (freelance campaigner)

Trust; Grainne Siggins, Director of Adult Social Care in the London Borough of Newham, and Chair of the Carers’ Policy Network in ADASS and Professor Nigel Sparrow OBE, Senior National GP Advisor and Responsible Officer at the Care Quality Commission. Advisors included Professor Saul Becker, Pro-Vice-Chancellor and Head of College of Social Sciences at the University of Birmingham and Professor of Social Policy and Social Work; Andrew Cozens CBE, leading national social care and health policy analyst and improvement specialist and Elaine Edgar OBE, former senior civil servant in a number of policy areas for the Department of Health, and Trustee of Mole Valley Carers Support.

The full report and findings is available on the Carers Trust website here.