Caring guarantee to put the heart back into Somerset

Lib Dems announce manifesto offer to Somerset's carers

Addressing Somerset’s 58,000 unpaid carers this Valentine’s the county’s Lib Dems are today proposing a package of support for those who look after others. They say caring for unpaid carers will help put the heart back into Somerset and have today tabled a motion for debate at the next meeting of the county council.

The new policy idea to guarantee a better deal for carers is the first preview of the Liberal Democrats’ manifesto for major elections to be held across the county on 5th May. The elections follow the government’s decision to abolish all of Somerset’s District Councils, mostly run by the Liberal Democrats, and create a single new council on the existing county boundaries.

The Liberal Democrat manifesto policy for the Somerset Council elections unveiled today says:

“Caring for our carers is at the heart of our approach.  Of Somerset's 58,000 carers just 72 have a formal Care Assessment”.

It promises that if the Liberal Democrats win control of the new council:

“[We will] guarantee an assessment for carers’ support including the offer of short breaks and other options, so that we can support people in their own homes”.

 

Bridgwater mum of four Tasleem Haysham’s son has a rare spinal cord condition. She had to wait over two years for a carer’s assessment. Tasleem combines care for her son with looking after her 88-year-old mother, while also managing her own disability from arthritis. She says:

“They were only interested in one thing – how to avoid giving me any support - they even asked other members of the family to do more”.

Taz has been a lifelong carer having fostered 4 children, often from troubled backgrounds. Taz’s daughter also sadly passed at a young age. Today she cannot understand why the County Council’s social services didn’t get her a carer assessment at the outset, when they knew the number of people she was trying to care for. Taz added:

“It’s like the left hand didn’t know what the right hand was doing. Having lost their sister my boys really appreciate what they’ve got - I just want to give them a better life. A little bit of help means our family can stay together at home where we want to be. Putting people into hospital and care homes costs the taxpayer thousands”.

Taz loves the Liberal Democrats’ guarantee of a better deal for carers, she’s signing up as a member to put her name forward for be a candidate in the elections.

 

Somerset Lib Dems’ Adult Care spokesperson Cllr Jane Lock said:

“Cuts by the Conservatives have been heartless – people like Taz and thousands of others have been left without the support they need, which is why we are standing to put the heart put back into Somerset in these elections”.

“Giving carers a break has been a key Lib Dem demand especially after Ed Davey, a carer himself, became leader. And financial support for carers makes huge economic sense, saving millions for both councils and the NHS. Public bodies should be doing everything they can to support carers not finding every excuse not to help. Our policy will guarantee a review of carer support beginning on day one of a Lib Dem administration for Somerset. My valentine’s message to the Conservatives is have a heart – we’re standing to support carers”.

  

Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey said:

“Time and again, whether it’s the money or the vaccine priorities, the Government continues to ignore our wonderful carers, and it’s just not acceptable – we must do far more to support them.

“It’s time for the Conservative Government to wake up and stop taking carers like Taz for granted and I look forward to hearing the Minister’s reply to these important issues.”

Sir Ed challenged the government to an increase to carers allowance at Prime Ministers’ Questions in September. Nationally Lib Dems want to see Carers’ Allowance increased by £1,000 per year and emergency funding post-pandemic for the many unpaid carers who are exhausted and need a break.


Another Lib Dem win in Somerset

Nicola HawkinsLiberal Democrats were celebrating last night (Thursday) after Nicole Hawkins was elected to the district council in a by-election caused by the disqualification of Minehead mayor Paul Bolton from the council.  With a turnout of 518, the results were:

Nicole Hawkins (Lib Dem) 259
Craig Coleman (Conservative) 223
Shanti Roos (Labour) 21
Richard Lillis (Independent) 13

Speaking after the vote, Ms Hawkins said “I’m delighted to serve all the people of Alcombe, and this result shows that we have earned the trust of local people.  I’m very grateful to the team who helped in the campaign, and will be working with many of them to bring effective local government to this district.  SWT has done many good things already, and I’m sure we will be able to carry on our work while giving Alcombe residents a very important say in the council’s business.”

Cllr Federica Smith-Roberts, leader of the council, said “This result builds on the success of Somerset West and Taunton as a council which works for everyone in the district, bringing council houses and the new Snazaroo factory to Minehead, looking after our social housing tenants, helping to keep Alcombe safe through the Covid pandemic, and now starting the process of building a much-needed swimming pool.  I look forward to working with Nicole and helping to answer the concerns of all residents in Alcombe.”

Cllr Hawkins served on the former West Somerset Council until it was abolished in 2019.  The reorganisation of local government means that further elections will take place in May for the new ‘unitary authority’ of Somerset Council.


PICTURE CREDIT
Cllr Nicole Hawkins, newly elected councillor for Alcombe, after the poll

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