The Government's general approach to carers is outlined in "Caring About Carers", the report of the National Carers Strategy published in February 1999. A great deal has already been achieved to implement the Strategy and further work is continuing.
The table shows the measures introduced specifically for carers since 1997:
|February 1999||Introduction of the Carers Grant—to enable local authorities to provide a wider range of services to give carers a break|
|December 1999||The Employment Relations Act gave carers in paid work the right to have time off to deal with family emergencies|
|February 2000||Introduction of carers website to give details of services and benefits affecting carers|
|March 2000||Introduction of the work life balance initiative to promote good practice to help employers explore work life balance|
|April 2000||The Carers and Disabled Children Act gave local councils the power to give carers a needs assessment in their own right. The Act also allows local authorities to give vouchers for buying-in provision when a carer needs respite|
|April 2001||The ICA Earnings Limit was increased by £22 to the level of the National Insurance Lower Earnings Limit to help carers who are able to combine work with caring|
|April 2001||The Carer Premium paid through Income-Related Benefits was increased by £10 per week, to provide additional financial support to carers who are less well off|
|July 2001||Launch of UK Online Life Episode "Looking after someone" to provide a wide range of information for carers|
In autumn 2000, a substantial package of measures to help carers was announced. This amounts to over £500 million of extra support in the first three years covered by the announcement.
It includes a number of improvements to the main carer benefits aimed in particular at helping older and poorer carers, as well as helping carers to keep in touch with work by making part-time employment more worthwhile financially.
The package also included measures to remove the barrier that prevents people aged 65 or over from claiming invalid care allowance will be removed; ensure entitlement to ICA will continue for up to eight weeks after the death of the disabled person; and rename ICA as 'Carer's Allowance'.