Carers Action Plan 2018-2020

Initial plans for a new national carers strategy

In 2008, the Labour government published ‘Carers at the heart of 21st century families and communities.’ The 10-year strategy built on the first national carers strategy from 1999, ‘Caring about Carers.’

In 2016, under the Conservative government, the Department of Health and Social Care ran a call for evidence from unpaid carers to feed into an updated national strategy. However, the government later decided not to publish a new strategy. Instead, the government response to its call for evidence said that its proposed social care green paper (first announced in March 2017) would be ‘an opportunity for a more fundamental approach to tackling the challenges carers face, by considering them alongside our strategy for social care.’

The 2-year action plan

On 5 June 2018, the government published a ‘Carers Action Plan 2018-2020 – Supporting carers today,’ with the aim of setting out its short term programme of action to support unpaid carers, ahead of the green paper. Announcing the action plan’s publication, Minister of State for Care Caroline Dinenage said it was informed by the 6,800 responses to the call for evidence and focused around five themes:

  • Services and systems that work for carers
  • Employment and financial wellbeing
  • Supporting young carers
  • Recognising and supporting carers in the wider community and society
  • Building evidence and research to improve outcomes for carers.

During a House of Lords debate on the new action plan on 21 June 2018, Labour Party peer Baroness Pitkeathley described that the carers sector had welcomed elements of the plan, particularly its:

  • emphasis on the need for cross-government working beyond the Department of Health and Social Care
  • recognition of the need for government action to enable carers to carry out paid employment, possibly by introducing dedicated employment rights
  • commitment to a £0.5m carers innovation fund to develop new models of support, for example by using technology to support carers (the fund was later increased to £5m).

However, Baroness Pitkeathley also stated that the plan was ‘more of a summary list of work being done or planned than an action plan’ and described the sector’s disappointment about the lack of additional government funding to support carers.

Later developments

In July 2019, the Department of Health and Social Care reported on its ‘positive progress’ on the commitments in the plan. In the progress report, the government again committed to including a focus on support for carers in the social care green paper, which had been delayed multiple times and remained unpublished at that time.


Dinenage C.
The Carers Action Plan 2018-2020 [for England] – Supporting carers today [webpage].
UK parliament; 2018.

House of Lords.
Carers Action Plan 2018-20: Supporting Carers Today: 21 June 2018, Volume 791.
Hansard; 2018.

Department of Health and Social Care.
How can we improve support for carers? Government response to the 2016 carers call for evidence.
Department of Health and Social Care; 2018.

Department of Health and Social Care.
Carers Action Plan 2018-2020: Supporting carers today.
Department of Health and Social Care; 2018.

Department of Health and Social Care.
Carers action plan 2018 to 2020: 1-year progress review.
Department of Health and Social Care; 2019.