Elderly issues in focus for prospective Wetherby candidates

Dementia and carers a priority for candidates.
Dementia and carers a priority for candidates.

Issues facing older people are a major concern for the future, say Parliamentary candidates for the Elmet and Rothwell constituency.

At Prime Minister’s Questions (PMQs) in the House of Commons last week, current MP and Conservative candidate Alec Shelbrooke spoke about dementia and the need for investment in research.

And Labour candidate Veronica King, who works for the Alzheimer’s Society, has pointed to data showing that Elmet and Rothwell has more carers than anywhere else in the Leeds region.

“Working in the adult social care sector, every day I see the amount of pressure on unpaid carers,” she said.

“That’s why I’m proud to back Labour’s plans for unpaid carers. There are 11,332 unpaid carers in Elmet and Rothwell, far more than in any other Leeds constituency, thousands of whom live in Wetherby and Harewood.

“With our charter for carers, Labour will stand up for these unsung and often overlooked heroes of our communities.”

She said that, of the constituency’s unpaid carers, 7,325 are 50 or over, according to new ONS data - almost 2,000 more than the area with the next highest amount.

These figures, also released for locations across the UK, have prompted a package of measures from the Labour Party, including ring-fenced funding for carers and abolishing the bedroom tax that hits 60,000 carers and the facilities they need.

During PMQs Mr Shelbrooke focused on dementia as the problem facing many older people.

He said to Prime Minister David Cameron: “On January 30 I shall be holding a dementia summit to bring together some of the fantastic work that voluntary sector organisations such as Wetherby in Support of the Elderly have done on dementia.

“Does my right honourable friend agree that dementia is one of the biggest challenges that this country faces in the coming century? Does he also agree that we need a strong economy if we are to be able to invest in dementia research?”

Mr Cameron responded: “It has been creeping up like a sort of silent crisis because the diagnosis rate has not been high enough and I do not think there has been enough action across our communities to join up and deal with it.

“That is now happening, however, and we have a clear dementia strategy. I commend what my honourable friend is doing in his constituency, getting together all the organisations that can help.”