COMMUNICATIONS NEWS: Carers UK uses shock tactics before Budget


Carers UK ran a media campaign using shock statistics from its own research to highlight carers' rights in the week leading up to the Budget.

Carers UK informed the media that three in five people will be forced to care for sick and elderly friends or relatives at some point during the next 35 years. An estimated extra 3.4 million carers will be needed by 2037, according to the charity.

The campaign, an attempt to broaden the debate on taxes for healthcare to include carers, generated interest from several newspapers and broadcasters.

"We're making sure that the public debate in the media on health includes carers and that this gets inside people's minds,

said Rory Hegarty, head of communications at Carers UK.

The charity welcomed the 6 per cent increase in the social services budget to prevent bedblocking, announced by health minister Alan Milburn. "It should reduce the burden on carers,

said Hegarty, "but we'll be monitoring it - we are worried people might be sent home too soon."

The charity's research found that a majority of people will take on caring duties at some point over the next 35 years, due to an ageing population and a move away from institutional care provision by the state.

The charity wants the Government to provide better incentives to encourage people to take on this role. The charity also wants to see the introduction of tax credits for carers - a favourite approach of the chancellor - and a radical shakeup of the benefits system in favour of carers.

"If the Government wants people to care for their loved ones at home they have to have the resources to do it. More and more people will opt out of caring because it means poverty or cutting back on basic things such as food and heating,

said Diana Whitworth, chief executive of Carers UK.

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