In the Queen’s Speech debate today, Caroline pressed Paul Scully MP, Minister for Small Business, Consumers and Labour Markets at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, on when the Government will deliver the promised employment leave for informal Carers.
The expected Employment Legislation to introduce a right to up to one week’s unpaid Carer’s Leave was not in this week’s Queen’s Speech. As a Conservative Party manifesto commitment in 2019, this has been seen as one of the major ways of supporting carers in the workplace to help them juggle work and care.
In the debate Dame Caroline, who is a former Minister for Care at the Department of Health and Social Care (2018-20) and Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Unpaid Carers, said:
“Informal carers across the country will have been dismayed to hear that the legislation to introduce the right to unpaid carer’s leave was not in the Queen’s Speech this week. It was a 2019 manifesto commitment and is actually a very key pillar of the Government’s Adult Social Care reform.
I wonder if my Honourable Friend can let me know when that will be addressed, please?”
Paul Scully MP, Minister for Small Business, Consumers and Labour Markets responded:
“I thank my Honourable Friend, the Member for Gosport for raising that, and she has raised this on a number of occasions, and rightly so.
It remains a commitment of this Government to be able to support unpaid carers who do an amazing job at supporting their families but, importantly, supporting the economy and supporting other areas of social care by the work that they do, the commitment that they give their families, but we do remain committed to unpaid carer’s leave and, indeed, we will introduce that when Parliamentary time allows.”
Speaking after the debate Caroline said:
“It’s disappointing that the Minister could not be more specific about the timings of this important legislation. So much of our healthcare system relies upon the goodwill and sacrifice of unpaid carers. I will continue to push for this important promise to be delivered.”
Commenting on the lack of Carer’s Leave in the Queen’s Speech, Helen Walker, Chief Executive of Carers UK said:
“We were very disappointed not to see the Government take forward the right for unpaid carers to have up to one week’s unpaid leave, by placing it in the Queen’s Speech. This would have made a difference to millions of people juggling work and caring for family members, knowing that they had that option to take time off for relatives, albeit unpaid, if they needed to and we’ve urged Government to make it a priority for families who need to stay in work.
“The health and care system depend heavily on the support of family members, including people who have to fit this in around paid work. Their support has been worth a staggering £530 million per day during the pandemic.”
“We are grateful to Dame Caroline Dinenage DBE MP for raising this matter in Parliament as it means a great deal to working carers.”