Health Secretary announces plans for a new carers’ strategy

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Today the Secretary of State for Health, Jeremy Hunt MP, delivered a speech at the Local Government Association Annual Conference in Harrogate on his plans for ‘Personal responsibility’. Within the speech he has announced that the government will be developing a new carers strategy which will include looking at international comparisons across the world. Carers Trust will be working with Department of Health in order to ensure that the new strategy will be of benefit to all carers across England.

Here are the most relevant parts from his speech:

New carers’ strategy


“We should also note the hard-headed economic arguments that impact on this debate.

“All families have different needs and situations, and for some residential care will be right. But carry on as we are and we will need 38,000 more care home beds in the next 5 years – the equivalent of around 20 new care homes a month for the next 5 years. The impact of this on you, the local authorities who fund 40% of all residential care beds, would be disastrous. Care home residents are some of the most frequent users of NHS services, so the financial impact on the NHS would be equally severe.

“Recent evidence suggests change is starting to happen – the latest ONS figures showed a welcome increase in multi-generational households. But with only 16% of older people living with their children in this country compared to 39% in Italy, 40% in China and 65% in Japan, we are starting from a low base and need to ask whether the pace of change is sufficient.

“We are proud of the new rights for carers enshrined in last year’s Care Act and made a manifesto commitment to increase support for fulltime unpaid carers. Passing new laws requiring people to care for relatives is not the British way, but I do want to make sure we are learning from the best of what happens around the world. So I can also announce that my new Minister for Community and Social Care Alistair Burt will develop a new carers’ strategy that looks at the best of international practice and examines what more we can do to support existing carers and the new carers we will need.

“The new strategy will ensure we deliver that – but it will do more. By looking at best practice from around the country and the world, it will seek to answer the big question: what do we need to do as a society to support people who are caring now, and crucially, for the millions who will have a caring role in the future? We can’t put our heads in the sand on this critical issue.”

A full copy of the speech can be found here.

Responding to Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt’s announcement of a new carers’ strategy, Carers Trust has provided the following comments:

“The Secretary of State’s announcement of a new carers’ strategy is a positive step towards showing the government’s commitment to the millions of unpaid carers in England looking after their sick or disabled family and friends. Carers Trust looks forward to working with the government to develop this.

“Families and communities depend on unpaid carers and so it is crucial that carers too are supported. However, we also know carers depend on high quality local services funded by their local authority. Social care funding is under more pressure than ever, so this also needs to be a priority for the government.

“Supporting carers is crucial and unless more money is invested in social care, other steps forward will only be a small part of the solution.”