Posted: Thu 2nd May 2024

A view from Mark Isherwood – Welsh Conservative North Wales Member of the Senedd for people living in or visiting the Wrexham area has invited the four North Wales Members of the Senedd to write a monthly column with updates on their work. You can find their updates – along with contributions from the Wrexham and Clwyd South MPs and MSs – here. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌

In his monthly column for, Welsh Conservative MS Mark Isherwood writes:

Unpaid carers provide care and support to family members or friends who are affected by disability, physical or mental ill-health, frailty or addiction. 3 in 5 people will become a carer at some point in their lives, sometimes for more than one person at a time. Carers can be any age, including young children.

In 2019, there were an estimated 400,000 unpaid carers in Wales., these individuals provide care worth around £8.1 billion to the Welsh economy each year.

Three years ago Social Care Wales estimated that 12% of the population of Wales are unpaid carers, and this figure could increase to 16% by 2037.

Earlier this month I was pleased to join the Carers Wales Celebration of the Implementation of the UK Carer’s Leave Act virtually.

With over 120,000 of the 400,000 unpaid carers in Wales juggling employment and care, the Act, which came into force on 6th April 2024 after years of campaigning led by Carers UK, grants employees who are unpaid carers up to five days of unpaid leave each year to attend to their caring responsibilities.

The Carer’s Leave Act covers employees in England, Wales and Scotland, and any employee who is providing or arranging care for someone with a long-term care need is entitled to take this leave.

This includes if you are caring for someone with a physical or mental illness or injury, a disability, or care needs because of their old age. The person you are caring for may be a family member or someone else who relies on you for care.

The right to take carer’s leave is available from the first day of your employment, applies to full-time and part-time employees, and provides the same employment protections to employees as other forms of family-related leave, including protection from dismissal.

The Act is a great step forward, but more must be done to support our unpaid carers in Wales. I was therefore pleased to hear during my meeting with Carers Wales, that along with Carers UK they will continue to campaign to ensure that carers’ rights at work continue to strengthen.

Last month in the Senedd Chamber, I spoke in the Debate on the “Final report of the Independent Commission on the Constitutional Future of Wales”.

Over two years, the Commission examined how Wales is currently governed and explored possibilities for its future governance, and in January it published its final report.

Speaking in the Debate on the report, I stated that although UK Conservative Governments have delivered law making powers, tax raising powers and a reserved powers model, turning the Senedd into a fully-fledged Parliament, Welsh Conservatives recognise that further devolution of powers now or in the foreseeable future is both unnecessary and unsafe.

Whilst the evolving constitutional settlement within our UK should not be determined by the transient personalities and policies of different Governments at any point in time, it should and must be built on the solid foundations provided by representative democracies with functioning checks and balances.

As I stated however, the democratic deficit in Wales is still alive and kicking, with many still not understanding where the decisions are taken, who is responsible and how much power the Welsh Government actually has over their lives.

In the Debate, I stressed that the Commission’s Report confirms that in the event of independence, Wales would face a fiscal deficit, “meaning big cuts for many years and possibly longer, the extent of which would be dependent upon the terms negotiated, which would include decisions surrounding state pensions, proportion of UK debt allocation, what currency Wales would use, defence and overseas representation.”

Perhaps intentionally, the obsessive like pursuit of further powers is a distraction from the issues which matter to the people of Wales.

While there are some interesting aspects of this report which will require further consideration, the work of the Commission will not make ambulances arrive any faster, properly staff our schools or support Welsh businesses.

Welsh Labour Ministers and their Plaid Cymru partners should instead be focusing on getting to grips with unacceptable waiting lists, on improving educational outcomes and on better pay for people in Wales, the lowest paid in the UK.

For my help, email [email protected] or call 0300 200 7219.

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