Northern Ireland's Carers Deserve Greater Support

Session: 2009/2010

Date: 10 December 2009

Reference: SD 09/09/10

Northern Ireland ’s 184,000 carers deserve greater recognition and government support for their role in providing essential services to the community. That’s the message from the Northern Ireland Assembly’s Social Development Committee as it responds to Government’s Green Paper on the future of carers.

The Green Paper, entitled Shaping the Future of Care Together which was published recently, could lead to new legislation which would affect Northern Ireland’s carers.

Committee Chairperson, Mr. Simon Hamilton, MLA said: “The Committee strongly feels that carers in Northern Ireland undertake a vital and under-recognized role. Carers don’t just provide an essential service to individual care recipients–they save the Health and Social Security system large amounts of money. The Committee would like to see the government acknowledge all of the benefits that carers bring to wider society.”

Mr Hamilton continued: “Carers come from all age groups and from a wide range of differing circumstances. The Committee therefore welcomes proposals for individual assessments which would tailor social security and other help for carers. The Committee supports the introduction of UK-wide social security measures which could address not just the cost of care provided but also the income lost by carers.

“Caring for an elderly, sick or disabled family member is rather like a vocation. The Committee wants society at large to recognize this. The Committee would also like to see practical measures such as the relaxation of the full-time education rule so that those entitled to Carer’s Allowance in Northern Ireland can develop their lives outside of their caring responsibilities and enhance their employment opportunities.”

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