HURRAY! Good News! ..... on Parent Carers' Rights

Dear Parent Carers,

I said I'd let you know the outcome of the Children's Minister Lord Nash's statement in parliament about the government's response to the parent carers' rights issue. Well.......

Lord Nash has proposed a further amendment to the 3rd reading of the Children and Families Bill which strengthens significantly the rights of parent carers! 

The new legislation will:-

  • consolidate existing legislation, ensuring a more consistent approach to the support of parent carers alongside other carers
  • remove the requirement that parent carers must be providing or intending to provide a “substantial amount of carer on a regular basis” in order to be assessed 
  • require Local Authorities to assess on “appearance of need” not just on request - this will particularly benefit parent carers who are not aware of their right to assessment.
  • require Local Authorities, in the assessment, to have explicit regard to the well-being of parent carers - with the definition of well-being being the same as that within the Care Bill, ensuring that parent carers receive the same consideration as all other carer groups. 

This is tremendous progress in ensuring we receive the same rights as other carer groups - Carers UK, who have been working so hard on all the legal wording, now say:-

"The amendment that has been sent across is, on the whole, extraordinary!  
  • Well-being is right there in primary legislation, with a link to the Clause 1 of the Care Bill – as it stands currently.   This is a beautifully widely drawn Clause which encompasses all aspects of well-being and gives parents true parity in law.
  • The amendments also talk about “needs” – first time that as parent carers you’ve ever had “needs”.  Up until now, it has been very rare to talk in these terms.
  • There is no requirement to “request” assessment - it should be automatic.
  • There is no “regular and substantial care” test.

 All in all, it is a bit of a triumph really and I didn’t really think that we’d end up here." 

We realise that the new legislation will not currently place a duty on local authorities to provide support after the assessment. And that it only applies currently to parent carers whose children fall under S17 of the Children's Act. However:-

  • now that our rights are in legislation, it can change attitudes to parents of disabled children
  • having to take note of the well-being of parent carers will encourage local authorities to be more innovative in their response to parent carers' needs - all the foundations to take action are there
  • parent carers' well-being can be considered alongside the well-being of carers of adults, for more joined up responses
  • local voluntary/support organisations will look to change their work around this too.


How We Got Here Over the Last Week

1.   Tuesday 28th Jan - Key Highlights of the Debate on strengthening the rights of parent carers

  • The debate was about the amendment that Baroness Pitkeathley had tabled for the Children's & Families Bill. She was supported by Baronesses Tyler and Howarth.
  • Baroness Lister reported on the Joint Committee on Human Rights' statement published this week, which said that it was dissatisfied with the Government’s response on this issue, and recommended that the Government bring forward an amendment to give parent carers of disabled children an equivalent right to a needs assessment for support. 
  • Lord Nash responded by thanking us by name

"There has been a very productive series of meetings between my officials and representatives of parent carers and local authorities to discuss the evidence and options for reform. As the noble Baroness, Lady Pitkeathley, said she and I also had a further meeting last week with my noble friend Lady Tyler and representatives of parent carers. The meeting was extremely informative and moving and I would like to thank Caroline, Sarah and Sherann for taking the time to share their experiences with me and officials. We cannot underestimate the contribution parent carers make. I recognise that many parent carers of disabled children face particular challenges and we must do all we can to provide them with the support they need. Putting parents and families in control is at the centre of the SEN reforms we have discussed extensively in your Lordships’ House over the last few months. Without parents and parent carer forums the new system will not deliver for children and young people in the way we hope. I recognise that and know that we must support them just as they support their families."

  •  Lord Nash went on to apologise on the record for earlier statements made:

"Before I go further, I want to apologise for any offence inadvertently caused in Committee in my response to the amendments in the name of the noble Baroness, Lady Pitkeathley. I said in my response: 'Recent serious case reviews … have shown starkly what can happen when the needs of parents are put ahead of those of the child', and that we must avoid any changes that, 'risk the needs of the children becoming second to those of their parent'. I said this because parents and disabled children receive support and are assessed under the same legislation as other children in need and their families. That of course does not mean that we equate such parents with those who have harmed their children and I apologise if anything I said suggested that this might be the case."

  • Lord Nash agreed to introduce an amendment at the final stage of the Children & Families Bill. Saying that a strong case had been made for consolidating the legislation and giving parent carers the same rights to assessment as other carers, the Minister committed to working with carers organisations and parent carers on the details of the proposal.

2.   Mon 3rd Feb - Lord Nash's Amendment Tabled for the Third (and Final) Reading of the Children's & Families Bill

  • DfE Officials worked hard on this under extreme time pressures to get the amendment tabled in time for the final opportunity to make changes to the C&F Bill.
  • They could not contain their delight when telling us that they had managed to include much of what we wanted, and sharing the wording with us. 
3.   Wed 5th Feb - Lord Nash's Amendment Discussed in Parliament 
 
What next?

Short-term:-

  • As well as the changes to legislation, new guidance will also be drafted to support the assessment of parent carers
  • BPC's Chair and the NNPCF representatives have been invited to be involved with this work along with representatives from Carers UK, local authority representatives from Adult Services, and from Children's Services
  • The aim is to ensure that the guidance sets out clearly how services should work together to support families and ensure best practice in local areas.
  • Our first meeting is on 24th February.
Long-term:-
  • The next campaign will be to get funding behind this legislation so that it is easier for local authorities to act! 


Well done everyone!!

Thank you.
Kind regards

Caroline Temple-Bird, Chair, Steering Group
Bristol Parent Carers

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.


December 2013:
  • 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 Decemberthe 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'.  
      In the meantime: 
  • 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. 
January 2014:
  • 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.
      Keeping Up the Pressure:
  • 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. 
      In the meantime:
  • 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.
What next?
  • 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!

Thank you.

Caroline at Houses of Parliament
Here's picture of me at the Houses of Parliament on your behalf!

Kind regards

Caroline Temple-Bird
Chair, Steering Group
Bristol Parent Carers

We Need to Challenge the Erosion of Parent Carers' Rights

YOUR HELP REQUIRED URGENTLY!

Under the new Care Bill, the Government is giving carers the same rights to an assessment and care services from local authorities as the people they care for. 

This is great news.
 
However, parent carers are not included as the Bill currently only covers adult carers of adults and young carers. We want to change this.

The Government says that existing provisions under Section 17 of the Children Act 1989 are sufficient. That parent carers’ needs will be assessed when the needs of the child are assessed (ie. during initial referral assessments for the child, or as part of the social care Core Assessment of the child).

We don’t think that this happens in practice; parent carers do not receive assessments or support in their own right as carers. 

We need evidence to show the Government how important it is that parent carers are included in these new rights for carers.

Please answer this short survey (it won't take more than 5 minutes) to help us lobby the Government with current evidence.
 
We need responses by midnight on Sunday 27th October – so please respond now!

https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/ParentCarers
 
Thank you.

Update & Progress so far with the Campaign

  • We sent letters (on your behalf) to peers on this issue earlier this month asking them to table amendments to the Care Bill and to the Children & Families Bill
  • We emailed parent carer participation forums nationally asking them to lobby peers on this issue using a proforma letter we provided
  • Forums have been sending the letter to peers, and talking to their MPs
  • One amendment has been tabled for the Carers Bill (with help from Contact a Family and Carers UK)
  • But the Government feels parent carers needs are adequately covered by existing legislation, and we should be covered by the new Children and Families Bill
  • Contact a Family is drawing up an amendment on this issue for the Children and Families Bill
  • We need more evidence to show that existing legislation fails us - that we often fall between Children's Services and Adult Services
  • Soon we will email you a campaign to contact specific MPs who will be working on the Care Bill in the Commons. 
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