As delivered to Community’s Biennial Delegate Conference in Belfast on May 31st 2022.
Conference, Steve Millman speaking for the NEC’s support for Composite G on carers.
Firstly I would like to thank those who brought this vital motion to our Conference, those in our Voice Midlands branch, the Education Sector Committee and our BCSA carers too.
Conference, did you know that there are 900,000 carers across the UK who give unpaid support to someone who is elderly, seriously ill or disabled.
To do this, they must rely on carers allowance, which is barely more than £70 a week. During this cost of living crisis, this may barely cover their petrol or energy bills.
Many carers struggle to juggle work and their caring responsibilities. 640 people in this country, every single day, give up paid work in order to care. 52 per cent of carers who apply for flexible working have their applications refused.
The situation for carers in this country is dire, and it has only got worse since the pandemic began. Service backlogs have meant that the waiting times for a caring needs assessment are even longer. These are people who do not have time to waste.
Often, caring responsibilities fall to our young people. There are currently 800,000 young carers, often without choice on being a carer or not, who had to balance home schooling and caring over the last three years. The vast, vast majority of these receive no support, be that financial or emotional.
This has to change.
At Community, we have always recognised that issues that impact you at home will go on to impact you at work, be they mental health, caring responsibilities, or financial difficulties. That’s why we have pledged to be the union for you at work, as well as at home.
By backing this motion, we will lobby government for policy changes that will support our young carers, including for timely care assessments and the simplification of needs assessments, support for young carers to access education and social opportunities and adequate investment in carers’ support.
We will also continue to support the wonderful organisation the Young Carers Trust including through raising awareness of the charity and its campaigns amongst our members.
Finally, we will campaign for all paid carers to be paid the Living Wage, including carers within London to be paid the London Living Wage.
Conference, anyone in this room could need a carer, or become a carer, at some point in our lives. Our carers, particularly our younger carers, do indispensable work. It is time to do right by them.
That’s why the NEC supports this excellent motion and why I urge you to too.