In a debate to mark Carers Week, Barbara has spoken out against national spending cuts that are stretching the budgets of carers and about other Government policies which are having a negative impact on carers’ lives.
Speaking in the debate in Westminster, Barbara made clear that Salford Council and Salford Primary Care Trust were working to minimise the impact that cuts and policy changes are having on social care and support services for carers. However, examples given by Parkinson’s UK and Age Concern make clear that Government policies are having a real impact on carers locally and causing them worry, distress and often hardship.
Increases in the cost of living, reduced eligibility for disability benefits and cuts to support services were examples of how extra strain and worry is being put on carers by policy changes. Barbara pressed the Health Minister with a number of questions and asked the Government to think again about its policies.
“I have spoken to local organisations who are taking an increased number of calls from carers who are living on very tight budgets with no chance of increasing the family income due to disability and caring responsibilities and are distressed because they can’t afford day to day living costs.
"Support organisations like Parkinsons UK tell me that the distress this causes is huge because if they appeal for the benefits they are being denied they feel that they are begging. Disability benefits are meant to pay towards the extra costs of having a disability, the fact that genuine people are being turned down means that carers have to do even more.
"In Salford, we are fortunate to have excellent support services for carers from The Princess Royal Trust for Carers and organisations like Age Concern and Parkinson’s UK. Salford City Council is one of only 15% of local councils that still fund care for people with “moderate” needs as well as those with “substantial” or “critical” needs, which I think is a good achievement in the face of Government cuts. However, it is clear that Government policies are now causing stress, concern and hardship for carers and I think the Government needs to think more about the help and support that carers need and the negative impact of its policies.”