The adult social care sector has issued its response to the annual Queen's Speech, conducted today in the House of Lords by Prince Charles. The speech provides Government with an opportunity to highlight its priorities for the months ahead and marks the start of the parliamentary year. This years' speech highlighted some of the 38 laws which ministers intend to pass in the coming year.
In response to the Queen’s Speech and what it means for the sector's unpaid family carers, Carers Trust’s CEO, Kirsty McHugh, said, 'The nation’s seven million unpaid carers bore the brunt of the pandemic. It is therefore astonishing that today’s Queen’s Speech did not contain the promised Employment Bill, honouring the manifesto commitment to bring forward measures to support unpaid carers trying to juggle caring and working.
'We had hoped for a clear announcement of legislation for a week’s unpaid leave for carers and a day-one right to request flexible working.
'Both of these measures, while only a start, would have been incredibly welcome to unpaid carers, not least because Carers Trust research found that almost half of unpaid carers say they have given up or scaled back on work due to caring. This in turn is causing financial pressures, a loss of life alongside caring, as well as depriving the economy of valuable experience, expertise and tax revenue.
'Given so many carers have already been pushed into acute financial hardship as a result of cost of living pressures, the urgent need to upgrade Carers Allowance and the continuing lack of investment in local carer services, it is no surprise that almost nine out of ten unpaid carers feel successive governments have ignored them.'
In response to today’s Queen’s Speech confirming that the Government will introduce a Levelling Up Bill in its coming session, Michael Voges, Executive Director of ARCO said, 'The last Planning White Paper failed to mention older people or our ageing population once. Since then the situation has become even more severe – unmet demand is increasing and our social care system is straining at the seams. The planning system is in desperate need of reform to allow more provision to come online.
'Today’s announcement of a Levelling Up Bill with planning provisions in the coming session presents an ideal opportunity for the Government to show it is serious about supporting older people, providing them with choices about where to live and to provide more alternatives to care homes. We also know that giving older people better downsizing options is the best possible way to free up suitable homes for families and younger people.
'It is clear that older people themselves are thoroughly unsatisfied and feel ignored by the current system. It is time to level-up for older people too.'
In response to proposed new measures to reform mental health legislation set out in today's Queen's Speech, director of policy and strategy at NHS Providers, Miriam Deakin, said, 'Trust leaders will welcome the announcement in today's Queen's Speech that ministers will publish proposals to reform the Mental Health Act. Reform here is long overdue and we are pleased, as we mark Mental Health Awareness Week, that this is a priority for the Government.
'We support proposed changes to the act that will give people a greater say in planning their care and recovery. It will be important for the bill to reflect consideration of the practical implementation of a number of proposals.
'A new Mental Health Act on its own won't be enough to guarantee high-quality mental health services or transform the way we deliver them for years to come. Mental health services are under severe strain from huge demand and limited resources.
'COVID-19 has left a significant legacy on the nation's mental health, particularly for children and young people, and the effects of poor mental health are expected to last longer than in some other areas of care.
'We must address too mental health inequalities between people from different sections of society – especially black, Asian and minority ethnic communities for whom the pandemic has exacerbated longstanding inequalities – and work to improve their access to services and outcomes.'
To read the briefing notes on the announcements made in today's Queen’s Speech, visit GOV.UK
In other news, this Mental Health Awareness Week (9th – 15th May), Thrive: Mental Wellbeing is supporting and encouraging businesses across the UK to have conversations and create a culture where employees can share their experiences and advice behind help-seeking with the campaign ‘I Get Help’.