Islington carers set to lose out under new council proposals

Cllr Martin Klute

Cllr Martin Klute - Credit: Archant

Up to 16,000 of the most vulnerable residents in the borough may have their lives made harder if an Islington Council plan goes ahead.

Currently unpaid carers, who spend their time looking after a sick or disabled friend or relative, are entitled to respite days so they can take some much needed time out.

A report that went before the council last summer described carers as heroes of devotion, but under a new proposal many would lose out on these vital days off. But the council insists it will affect 119 people.

Cllr Martin Klute, chairman of the public health committee, said: “Anything that undermines the work that carers do is a very, very bad thing because they suffer an extraordinary amount of stress in their daily lives.

“Carers make a huge contribution to the economy with their unpaid work.

“Things are tough enough for them already without making them harder.

“To attack them and make things worse seems really unfair.”

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Under the new scheme, respite days will no longer be a free benefit for the carer themselves, they will be classed as a service for the person being cared for.

It will also become means tested on the person being cared for, meaning many helpers will miss out.

The plan is still at the consultation stage, and Islington Disabled People Against Cuts (IDPAC) wants people to voice their anger at a public meeting tomorrow.

Andy Greene, a member of IDPAC, said: “We are going to this meeting to give them hell.

“Carers need support amid all these other cuts, not being put upon locally.

“Being a carer is both physically and mentally draining so a rest is needed. But quite apart from that, providing respite proves society appreciates them and values the work they do and wants to help them.

“Having this taken away is like a slap in the face for carers.”

Cllr Janet Burgess, Islington Council’s executive member for adult social care, said: “We’re currently consulting with carers and service users about some proposed changes to respite services, to bring them into line with national guidance, and to make them fairer.

“No decisions have been made on these proposals, and we welcome all views from service users and carers.

“Carers have a vital role in supporting some of our most vulnerable residents.

“Carers services, including carers’ direct payments and the Carers’ Hub, will remain free of charge.”

The public meeting will be held at disability charity Centre 404 in Camden Road, Holloway, from 2.30pm to 4.30pm tomorrow.