Action call to help carers in lockdown

Councillor Claire Wright

Councillor Claire Wright is calling for urgent action to support hard-pressed carers - Credit: Claire Wright

One of the Ottery St Mary area's leading councillors is calling for urgent action to support hard-pressed carers.

Devon county councillor Claire Wright said: “Having heard from many unpaid carers. My heart goes out to them in what is often a hard and lonely job, often fraught with struggles to access the financial help they are entitled to.”

Cllr Wright, who represents the Otter Valley ward, said: “I proposed a review into this issue several times before it was eventually agreed in 2019.”

She said the review was published last January and its recommendations were “fully endorsed by Devon County Council’s cabinet”.

“Some progress has been made on the locally based recommendations, while others have been delayed due to the pandemic. But the matter is horribly urgent and spiralling out of control.”

Cllr Wright said the latest statistics published in last month’s health and adult care scrutiny committee papers were incredibly worrying.

She said: “The Office for National Statistics estimates that the unpaid carer population in the UK has increased by an alarming 50 per cent due to Covid-19. This means the unpaid carer population in the Devon County Council footprint will have increased to 130,000.

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“National research shows a worsening position for carers too. Only 12 per cent said they received enough support from social care. The proportion – 64 per cent – providing 50 hours’ care or more a week has almost tripled, compared with the 2011 census. And 54 per cent have given up or reduced paid work because of caring.

“Despite these grim statistics and the lack of support available for unpaid carers, it is estimated that since the start of the pandemic, carers in Devon have provided £1.75 billion of care.”

Cllr Wright added: “I have time after time raised this issue at Devon County Council. At last month’s health and adult care scrutiny meeting I proposed the committee take another look at the difficulties facing unpaid carers.

“However, this was rejected in favour of the partnership board examining the issue with carer representatives. This meeting will be on March 4 and I will be present to hear testimonies and ask questions.”

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