The Government has announced new legal rights for those who care for elderly or disabled relatives, reports The Daily Telegraph.
The Care and Support Minister, Norman Lamb, has announced that those who juggle care commitments with work will be given the legal right to claim help, including respite holidays and training.
Today's Queen's Speech will unveil the proposals, which will oblige councils to assess the support needs of all carers and to provide services to ensure that those care needs are met. Financial assistance for carers will be means tested, but many advice measures will be available to all.
The policy comes in the light of statistics that show that more than 1m people, mostly women, spend more than 50 hours each week caring for a family member. Common reasons for requiring care include an inability to complete activities of daily living, such as washing, dressing, cooking and cleaning.
In an interview with The Daily Telegraph, Norman Lamb MP said that carers often felt isolated and adrift of state support. At present when carers do seek help they are often denied it, due to the current lack of a legal right to help.
Mr Lamb believes that the new law will provide a backbone of assistance for carers.
"There will be proper support. They will be linked into the system. If their needs are of a sufficient level they will be entitled for the first time to get support from the local authority," he said.
The provision of care support will be founded in law, but the exact nature of the support offered is likely to vary on a council-by-council basis. It is thought support packages could include training in care techniques, leisure classes and transport assistance.
The new law will also include a £72,000 cap on the cost of care, putting an end to the practice of forcing pensioners to sell their home to cover the unlimited cost of care.
"This is the most important piece of care legislation for decades and reforms a dysfunctional system," Mr Lamb concluded.
Carers to receive legal rights under new laws (The Telegraph)