Just as public services, communities and workplaces have seen a shift in how families are supported to balance childcare responsibilities with busy working lives, we now need a similar shift to meet the care needs of a rapidly growing older population too.
Thanks to the Liberal Democrats the Care Act and Children and Families Act have both extended the rights of carers of all ages, but there is still much more to be done to recognise the hidden treasure that are carers.
Caring responsibilities can come at any time in a person's life and can exact a heavy price in both health and wealth. About 6 in 10 of us will become carers at some point in our lives, and 45% of carers have given up work to care. Carers UK estimate that informal care saves the country £119 billion per year.
That is why I am delighted that Nick Clegg has today announced our plans for a Carers Bonus.
The bonus idea was developed by the Party's Ageing Society Working Group as part of our Age Ready Britain policy paper.
The bonus would be paid annually to carers to use as they see fit, for example as a contribution toward extra costs such as taking a break. To start with it would be set at £125, doubling to £250 no later than 2020.
This would put extra money in carers hands to make their own decisions about how it can best support them. The Carers Bonus marks out our commitment to promoting the wellbeing of carers and is the first of a number of proposals aimed at better supporting carers that we spell out in our policy paper Age Ready Britain.
Paul Burstow MP was Carer Service Minister 2010-12 and was responsible for drawing up the draft Care and Support Bill.
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