Julie Morgan MS, Deputy Minister for Social Services
Unpaid carers of all ages in Wales will benefit from a £9m fund to set up a new national short breaks scheme.
The three-year investment will increase opportunities for unpaid carers to take a break from their caring role and will deliver a key Programme for Government commitment.
A short break is a service, support or experience, which helps an unpaid carer take time away from their caring responsibilities. It could be a chance to visit the gym, learn a new skill or de-stress by going for a walk or reading a book. A short break could also be a trip away from home with family or friends and could also involve spending time with the person they support and care for.
Unpaid carers have consistently told me that taking a break helps them to cope with the pressures of their caring responsibilities. Their experiences during the pandemic have further underlined the urgent need for a new and innovative model of respite and short break options for unpaid carers.
This new scheme aims to transform the way unpaid carers access respite and short breaks in Wales.
There are some excellent short break schemes already operating in some areas, however access across Wales is inconsistent. To support the roll out of a successful model, I have commissioned NEWCIS to produce a toolkit and resources based on its award-winning model of a short breaks fund in North Wales. This will enable more unpaid carers across Wales to have access to the right break for them, at the right time.
Last year, I commissioned Carers Trust Wales and Bangor and Swansea universities to explore options for a new vision for short breaks in Wales. The subsequent report What a Difference a Break Makes was published in August 2021. My Ministerial Advisory Group on Unpaid Carers considered the report’s recommendations and their expert advice has shaped the development of the new scheme.
Third sector organisations will be invited to submit an expression of interest for the role of a national coordinating body to establish and oversee the short breaks scheme. The coordinating body will work collaboratively with Regional Partnership Boards, local authorities and the third sector across Wales to encourage innovation and promote good practice.
The national coordinating body will also ensure unpaid carers have equal access to a range of suitable options to support them to take a break that meets their needs. A core principle of the scheme is that individuals are seen and the focus will be on achieving the personal outcomes that matter to unpaid carers.
I will provide further updates as the work to establish this landmark scheme progresses. I am confident by working together we can support unpaid carers of all ages and backgrounds and in all parts of Wales to take a meaningful break from caring.
This statement is being issued during recess in order to keep members informed. Should Members wish me to make a further statement or to answer questions on this when the Senedd returns I would be happy to do so.