What Progress on Parent Carers' Rights?
PLEASE PASS THIS UPDATE ONTO YOUR PARENT CARERS
Sorry for the delay in getting back to you with progress - but lots of things have been happening behind the scenes since you all helped with the campaign and wrote letters to peers.
- As a result of the letters and amendments tabled in parliament, parent carers were invited to talk about the issue with Department of Education (DfE) officials.
- On the 2nd December, the Chair of Bristol Parent Carers (BPC) and a Co-Chair of the National Network of Parent Carer Forums (West Midlands region) went to London with representatives from Carers UK, the Carers Trust, and Contact a Family to meet DfE officials.
- We had a constructive meeting to try to progress the issue of how parent carers' rights to assessment and support could be addressed by the two new Bills going through parliament (the Children & Families Bill and the Care Bill).
- As a result, Carers UK and Carers Trust were asked to look at the implications of changes in legislation, laws being repealed, and any 'rump' legislation, in order to see where legislation affecting parent carers would be, what it covers, and what rights were at risk of being 'lost'.
- As a result of the amendment tabled by Baroness Pitkeathley (and others) on the Children's & Families Bill, statements were made by government officials that a danger of concentrating on parent carers' needs was to lose sight of the child and risk an increase in child abuse cases! Naturally, peers, MPs, and onlookers were horrified and there was lots of debate on this.
- Bristol Parent Carers wrote a letter expressing how offensive such language was.
- Baroness Pitkeathley asked Lord Nash to meet with parent carers personally and hear our experiences.
- A round table discussion was called by DfE and the Department of Health (DoH) of experts in legislation and guidance, representatives from local authority adults' services and children's services, and parent carers to look at ways in which the legislation and/or guidance could be made to work for us.
- On 10th January, the Chair of BPC, a Co-Chair of the NNPCF (North West region), and a parent carer from Lewisham's forum attended this meeting, along with representatives from Carers UK, the Carers Trust, and Contact a Family.
- This constructive meeting looked at the issues in depth, heard about local practices, and discussed Carers UK's proposed options for amendments to the new Bills.
- We left with the definite feeling that there had been movement on the subject, and a recognition that the legislation and guidance needs to be clearer - we just did not know what the government's response would actually be.
- Carers World Radio talked to Paul Burstow MP who was tabling an amendment on the Care Bill, and BPC's Chair was invited to talk again about the lives of parent carers. The programme is available to listen to or download on:http://www.carersworldradio.com/. It is currently on the front page labelled "Carers World Investigates" but may move to Latest Programmes.
- Baroness Pitkeathley had obtained an invitation for parent carers to meet with Ministers so that they could hear directly from us.
- On 22nd January, the Chair of BPC and the 2 Co-Chairs of the NNPCF went to the Houses of Parliament (and got to see parts of the Lords and the Commons!).
- We met with Lord Nash and Norman Lamb MP and their officials, and were escorted by Baroness Pitkeathley, Baroness Tyler and Baroness Northover and representatives from Carers UK.
- Lord Nash apologised to us directly for the statements made which linked addressing parent carers' needs with the risk of child abuse.
- We had the chance to express our concerns and discuss solutions.
- It appeared as though there had been more movement on this issue. Lord Nash has agreed to consolidate legislation so that it is not so confusing around the rights of parent carers, and may concede some other points about assessment and support.
- Lord Nash told us that next week (either Tuesday afternoon 28th Jan or Wednesday 30th Jan), he will make a statement in parliament about the government's response to the parent carers' rights issue.
- This is when we will discover the detail and extent of the government's plans to address out needs.
- We will let you know the outcome.
- Whatever happens, we and the national carers organisations will continue to work with officials on the details, and continue to apply pressure on any elements that are omitted!
Here's picture of me at the Houses of Parliament on your behalf!
Chair, Steering Group
Bristol Parent Carers