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Carers Week 2020: Carers need support now more than ever

Ellen Buckerfield

This Carers Week, we want carers to be recognised, supported and protected.

Many people with MS will need care from friends and family at some point. Our ‘My MS My Needs’ survey shows 4 in 10 people living with MS rely to some level on unpaid care and support from family and friends. And 7 in 10 don't get any extra support from their local council or government.

Even before the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, many carers were going without the right support or recognition.

COVID-19 piles on the pressure for carers

Now, the coronavirus crisis has put even more pressure on carers.

We’ve heard from people with MS who've felt they have to cancel paid care, to protect themselves from people coming into their home.

We know some of you may have had your care reduced by your local authority, or that your carers aren’t available due to being unwell or isolating. The result is that family or friends who provide care are less able to have a break.

This means that support for carers is more needed than ever.

We’re campaigning for more support for carers

We’re calling for UK governments to increase Carer’s Allowance. We're raising it in questions to ministers and parliamentarians, and working in collaboration with others, like writing to the Welsh Government with the Wales Carers Alliance.

In May, we also joined with more than 100 other charities and unions to write to MPs, urging action to reduce the financial pressures unpaid carers face.

We were pleased to see the Scottish Government will be making a one-off payment of £230.10 to eligible carers through the Carer's Allowance Supplement, recognising the extra pressures of coronavirus. But this top-up shouldn’t be needed. The right level of support should be provided consistently in the standard Carer's Allowance for carers across the UK.

We’ve also called for carers to have access to personal protective equipment (PPE) and testing, to help keep them and the people they care for safe. We’re pleased testing is now available, and there's now guidance published on accessing PPE.

Read our information for carers in lockdown

We want to hear from you

It’s not just about giving unpaid carers the right resources. It’s also vital that care and support services are reinstated for carers and their families as soon as possible.

The Coronavirus Act and Coronavirus (Scotland) Act 2020 allows local authorities in England, Scotland and Wales to reduce what people get if pressures on social care get too high during the pandemic. We spoke out against these changes, and now we're monitoring this closely. We want to make sure essential support is there for people with MS, so carers are not forced to step in and take on even more.

If this is affecting you, we want to know. If you can, please share your story with us. It helps us campaign together and speak up for our whole community.

Share your story today