My response to constituents who contacted me about Carer’s Leave.
Thank you for contacting me about unpaid leave for employees with caring responsibilities. I think that unpaid carers are unsung heroes and without them millions of people would be left to manage without any support. The cost-of-living crisis has made measures to support carers in work even more important. I will therefore support the Carer’s Leave Bill at Second Reading.
However please not that social care is devolved to the Scottish Parliament, so you may wish to contact your MSP about this. In the Scottish context however, Scottish Labour are fighting hard to ensure Sturgeon’s government are not abandoning unpaid carers.
The Scottish Labour Manifesto outlines a support strategy for unpaid carers, it is based upon advice from the National Carers Organisations and includes increased investment and entitlement to short breaks, access to leisure and wellbeing services, occupational health support and the provision of independent advocacy for carers of all ages.
The SNPs attempt to support unpaid carers has been pitiful, from December the six-monthly allowances doubled, however this provision was not made in the 2022/23 budget for the funding needed to maintain the higher rate, this transpires into the payment being halved from the next year onwards. This is just another example of empty promises from the SNP.
Many carers are trying to juggle their paid work with their caring responsibilities which is an incredibly difficult thing to do. Therefore, action must be taken to ensure unpaid carers get the support they need. The Government says it is committed to introducing a new entitlement to one week of leave for unpaid carers. However, no action has been taken yet.
As we emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic, we need a new settlement for social care, which puts family carers at its heart and gives carers the practical, emotional, financial and workplace support they need to help look after the people they love most. Unpaid carers have been pushed to the limit looking after the people they love. Almost half had not had a single break for five years even before the pandemic struck. For this reason, the Government must look to improve carers’ rights to take time off work for caring responsibilities.
I believe that the NHS should systematically identify and support carers and ensure they are fully considered in any recovery plans. I also believe that social care desperately needs a sustainable funding settlement, which includes comprehensive support for unpaid carers such as regular respite breaks. We must ensure that unpaid workers have the right to take leave whenever necessary.
Please rest assured that I will continue to put pressure on the Government to introduce unpaid leave for employees with caring responsibilities.
Thank you once again for contacting me about this issue.