To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment her Department has made of effect of caring responsibilities on carers (a) retaining, (b) entering and (c) progressing in work.
Government is committed to continuing to support carers, who are vital partners in the health and care system, and continues to support carers in a way that supports their own health & wellbeing, employment and other life chances.
Many carers struggle to find good jobs that are appropriate for their level of skill and experience after taking time out for caring for children and other relatives. This is a loss to the economy, to employers, and to those individuals.
In the 2017 Spring Budget, the Government allocated £5 million to support people to return to paid work in the public and private sector. The returner programmes will support carers who have taken an extended career break. Best practice guidance has also been published to help employers of all sizes and across sectors to increase the quantity and quality of work opportunities they offer returners.
The Government has extended the right to request flexible working for all with 26 weeks of continuous employment. A Flexible Working Taskforce has also been established to look at ways to support employers to improve flexible working practices which could help carers to stay in work and return to work.
The Government is exploring dedicated employment rights for carers, alongside existing rights, such as the right to request flexible working and the right to time off for family and dependents. Department for Work and Pensions are collaborating closely with the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy on this area to help support carers in overcoming the practical challenges of balancing work and caring responsibilities.
The Government also continues to invest in supporting carers to return to work through Jobcentre Plus which could include adviser support, access to the Flexible Support Fund, and payment for replacement care, childcare, travel and course costs to allow the carer to undertake approved activity or interview with Jobcentre Plus, providers or employers.
To support carers to remain in the labour market, the Department for Work and Pension is leading on a project to explore how to improve online information and signposting to wider information and support for carers at the start of their caring journey. This Carers Employment Digital Discovery Project is mapping the information needs of working carers in order to identify opportunities for government and others to improve the available information.