Julie Morgan MS, Deputy Minister for Social Services
Every year, I celebrate Carers Rights Day, recognising the essential role unpaid carers play in Wales.
Unpaid carers can be retired, in employment, caring full time or at school or college – Carers UK estimates two-thirds of adults will be carers in their lifetime. It is vital we all work together to raise awareness of carers' rights so everyone with caring responsibilities is able to prioritise their own needs alongside caring.
To raise awareness and encourage conversations about caring, earlier this year I launched the Charter for Unpaid Carers. Developed with unpaid carers, statutory bodies and the third sector, it helps carers and professionals to gain a better understanding of carers’ rights under the Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act 2014.
The cost-of-living is affecting everyone but unpaid carers are particularly vulnerable. I have allocated £4.5million to continue our successful Carers Support Fund over three years. Since the fund was set up in 2020, more than 10,000 unpaid carers have accessed a small grant or information and advice via this fund. Nearly a third of beneficiaries were previously unknown to services. Re-opening the fund this year will ensure more carers can access immediate financial help or ongoing support to manage their caring role.
The fund is administered by Carers Trust Wales and applications are now open Carers Support Fund Wales Programme - Carers Trust. Eligibility is not linked to Carer’s Allowance.
In April, I announced £9m to set up a new national Short Breaks Scheme for unpaid carers. Following a competitive application process, Carers Trust Wales has been appointed as the national coordinating body to take this important work forward. It is working with Regional Partnership Boards to develop new integrated services to support unpaid carers to access a range of short breaks tailored to their individual needs.
£186,000 has been invested in the national Young Carer ID card scheme for young carers aged up to 18. The card has been rolled out across all 22 local authorities and the numbers of young carers taking up the card is increasing steadily. In August, the first young carers festival was held in Builth Wells, with funding from the Welsh Government. The highly successful three-day event was managed by Credu and more than 300 young and young adult carers attended.
I am determined to work across sectors to ensure our funding commitments reach more unpaid carers in Wales and have a positive impact on their lives.