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:-
- 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.
- 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.
- The next campaign will be to get funding behind this legislation so that it is easier for local authorities to act!
Well done everyone!!
Caroline Temple-Bird, Chair, Steering Group
Bristol Parent Carers