The 11th hour: Caring for Parent Carers

The Children and Families Bill moves ever closer to Royal Assent with amendments still being put forward. It's now at the Third Reading stage and there are a few big amendments and additions being proposed at the reading today including:

  • binning the use of "best endeavours" in making provision for children and young people in custody,
  • giving power to the First-tier Tribunal to make recommendations in respect of other matters (including matters against which no appeal may be brought) - and this looks very much like the fruition of at least part of Jane Raca's campaign  for a right to appeal all aspects of an Education, Health and Care plan, whether or not it's a statutory element.
  • prohibiting sale of nicotine related products to under 18s - this is in addition to the existing rules on selling tobacco to under 18s; and
  • a new clause relating to Parent Carer Needs Assessment.

HL 3rd readingCarers UK has been campaigning hard for parents caring for disabled children to be included in new rights which will make it easier for carers to be assessed and supported.  As any parent will know, we are usually the last priority, both within our own lives and within the local authority budget, so having this clause introduced is an enormous step forward for us.

However, it does say quite a bit about the perception of parent carers needs, that this clause is only appearing as the result of a campaign and was not in the very first draft of the Bill.  We obviously need to  stop making it look so easy!

The new clause being proposed includes:

  • A local authority in England must assess whether a parent carer within their area has needs for support and, if so, what those needs are - when:
    • (a)   it appears to the authority that the parent carer may have needs for support, or
    • (b)   the authority receive a request from the parent carer to assess the parent carer’s needs for support.
    • - and -
    • the local authority are satisfied that the disabled child cared for and the disabled child’s family are persons for whom they may provide or arrange for the provision of services.
  • The Local Authority must have regard to the well-being of the Parent Carer, with well-being being defined as in Part 1 of the Care Act 2013:  

“Well-being”, means that individual’s well-being so far as relating to any of the following

  1. personal dignity (including treatment of the individual with respect);
  2. physical and mental health and emotional well-being;
  3. protection from abuse and neglect;
  4. control by the individual over day-to-day life (including over care and support, or support, provided to the individual and the way in which it is provided)
  • A local authority in England must take reasonable steps to identify the extent to which there are parent carers within their area who have needs for support.

You can watch the reading at the House of Lords live on Parliament TV from about 3.30pm today - not a hugely family friendly time for most of us but it is archived so you can watch it later.

Alternatively, and possibly far more practical and palatable, Hansard always publishes a verbatim review of proceedings the following day the link to which we will, of course Tweet and add to our Facebook page so do make sure you're following us on one or both social media channels.

So now over to you - what do you think of these amendments - and what's still missing from the Bill in your opinion? We love to hear your views and you never know who might read them and pay attention!

Debs Aspland
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