THE Work and Pensions Secretary has met with unpaid carers who told her how they have struggled to juggle their caring role and a job.

Esther McVey and Shipley MP Philip Davies visited charity Carers’ Resource in Shipley, which supports about 16,000 unpaid carers in the Bradford district, Harrogate and Skipton areas.

They met the charity’s leaders and staff before sitting down to talk with carers including Shain Wells, 48, of Menston. Mrs Wells explained to the Minister she is a carer for her ten-year-old son, who is on the autistic spectrum. She is on the committee of an autism charity and she works part-time for Inclusion North on a project to identify what support is needed by carers of adults with learning disabilities.

She asked: “How can we, as carers, best convince employers that we are worth employing when it must sometimes feel like a risk?”

Carers’ Resource chief executive Chris Whiley was at the meeting to support the carers and represent others who were not able to attend due to work or caring commitments.

She asked Ms McVey whether the Government would consider a carer-aware kitemark or charter for employers, and said her charity would work in partnership with other carer organisations to support officials to make this happen.

Secretary of State for Work & Pensions, Esther McVey said: “It was a real pleasure to come and speak to some of the carers at Carers’ Resource today and speak about the issues facing them when moving into employment.

“Carers make up a talented pool of employees and after this meeting today I will be looking to work with Carers’ Resource to see how together we can create a carers’ kitemark so employers can recognise their fantastic contribution to the workforce.”

Shipley MP Mr Davies, whose constituency includes Burley-in-Wharfedale and Menston, arranged for the Minister to visit the charity on Wednesday, March 29, after supporting its plea for the Government to honour a pledge to update the Carers Strategy and due to the charity’s support of working carers and its interest in engaging with employers.

Mr Davies said: “I asked the Secretary of State to come with me to visit Carers’ Resource in Shipley to discuss the barriers facing carers in employment and what the Government can do to help.

“A carers’ kitemark for employers would make a real difference to practically help carers juggle their caring responsibilities whilst retaining their job. I am delighted that Esther was so positive about such a scheme and will be working with Carers’ Resource to hopefully make this a reality.”

Written questions were sent in by carers who were unable to attend due to work or caring commitments. The Minister said she would respond in writing in due course.

Unpaid carers can call Carers’ Resource on 01274 449660 or email for emotional and practical support.