Family life is changing and more and more of us are looking after elderly or disabled relatives. There are already 5.4 million unpaid family carers in England – and around 31,000 here in Leicester – and this number is set to increase in future. 3 in 5 of us will be an unpaid carer at some point in our lives.
I recently met Lesley Jarvis, and her daughter Sharon, who have been caring for Lesley’s husband since he had a stroke 10 years ago. They told me that caring is a real struggle and that families often feel pushed to breaking point. Too often people have to battle all the different services to try and get the support they need. One in three family carers have to give up their job or reduce their hours because they can’t get the right support or flexible working hours. Family carers are also more likely to suffer from poor health because of the stress and physical demands that caring brings.
It’s not right that people who do so much get so little in return. That’s why Labour will improve support for family carers. We’ll give family carers a new right to ask for an annual health check and a single point of contact with care services for families caring for people with the greatest needs. We will properly ring-fence funding for carers breaks; recognise the extra transport costs faced by carers by including them in the groups eligible for hospital parking concessions and consult on how to ensure more flexible working arrangements for family carers.
I recently popped in on their Christmas Party to join in with the festive fun and dancing. I have to say, it was difficult to keep up, despite the fact that many of the dancers were in their 70s and beyond.
I recently popped in on a fabulous Christmas Party at the Oak Centre on Benbow Rise. Around 70 children aged 8-11 attended the event, which was organised by volunteers and supported by B-Connected and Resnet. Festive games, a disco and lots of treats were on offer. It was great fun and I especially enjoyed meeting the very enthusiastic dancing Santa. Events like this really help to bring the local community together and they get my full support.
David Cameron’s single biggest promise when he became Prime Minister was to balance the books by 2015. But we now know he has failed, as the Chancellor confirmed when delivered his final autumn statement of this Parliament.
The Government is borrowing £219 billion more than they originally planned, and borrowing is forecast to go up again this year and next. The Office for Budget Responsibility says the main cause of this increased borrowing, despite the economy returning to growth, is the low tax take. At the same time, many people still aren’t feeling the benefits of growth as their wages continue to stagnate.
We’re not going to succeed in getting the deficit down or in improving people’s living standards without a proper long-term plan to support good quality jobs alongside tough decisions on public spending and fair taxes. You can read more on Labour’s response to the Autumn Statement here.