Paul Burstow

Carers must not be seen as an economic burden with the Government ensuring they receive greater flexibility at work, a former health minister has urged.

Liberal Democrat Paul Burstow said aside from the physical and emotion toll carers experience, reports suggest three million people try to balance caring responsibilities with paid work.


And Mr Burstow said studies also highlighted 2.3 million have given up work to care for someone leading to the UK economy losing £1.3 billion a year from tax revenues and benefits.

The figure devised by the London School of Economics rises to £5.3 billion a year when lost earnings are also taken into consideration.
Former care services minister Mr Burstow, moving a debate on carers in the House of Commons, said: "This is simply not a cost the UK can continue to bear as a consequence of a failure to act to put the right safeguards, support and systems in place to enable carers to stay in employment.

"There is now an urgent need and a clear case to look again at caring and re-frame the debate, not as about the burden on the economy but as an asset and an opportunity.

"We need to begin to look at caring in the same way that we view childcare support and services.

"Carers must be entitled to greater flexibility at work, indeed this Government has done much on that.

"Indeed the scale of demographic change that we are facing with the over 85s, the fastest growing part of our population and the number set to double by 2030, the growing numbers of sandwich carers trying to juggle unpaid work with the demands for caring for their children and older relatives is becoming an urgent imperative."

© 2013 Press Association