Over the last few years, the enormous contribution made by carers has been increasingly recognised and various pieces of legislation have passed through Parliament giving carers more rights. The aim of these rights is to support carers in their caring role, allowing carers to take up life opportunities like everyone else, and to prevent caring taking a toll on the carers’ own health.
Carers Recognition and Services Act 1995
This requires social service departments to assess the ability of any person caring for a client who receives social care services. Services may be provided for the cared-for person which then allows the carer to take a break. Councils were not required to provide services to the carer.
The Carers and Disabled Children Act 2000
This gives Councils the power to supply certain services directly to carers following an assessment. This power involves a right to a carers’ assessment, even where the cared-for person has refused an assessment for social care services, or refused the provision of services.
Carers Equal Opportunities Act 2004
The act ensures that carers will be able to take up opportunities that those without caring responsibilities take for granted. The main points are:
- Councils are to ensure that all carers know that they are entitled to an assessment of their needs
- Place a duty on Councils when carrying out a carers' assessment, to consider a carer’s outside interests including work, study and leisure
- Promote better joint-working between Councils and the health service to ensure that support for carers is delivered in a coherent manner when carrying out an assessment
Work and Families Act 2006
This act gives carers the right to request flexible working if they have 26 weeks of continuous employment at the date they make an application, and they meet the requirements detailed in the Act.
Equality Act 2010
This act makes ‘discrimination by association’ (with a disabled person) illegal. It covers employment issues as well as the provision of goods and services.