THREE in five people will become a carer at some point in their lives. Anyone can become a carer at any time.

It can be instant - the result of a road traffic accident or a stroke, for example, or it can creep up, when an elderly relative becomes frail.

More than three million carers in the UK also have a job. In a recent report, The State of Caring 2017, 25per cent of carers said they hadn’t had a day off from caring in over five years. By 2030, the number of carers will increase by 3.4 million. Those who look after a loved one at home save the nation an estimated £132 billion a year - almost the NHS budget.

Katharine Styles is one of the UK’s seven million unpaid carers. In 2016 she took part in a Government consultation for unpaid carers and has been waiting for a Government Strategy ever since. Now, following a decision to scrap an update to the National Carers Strategy, she’s calling for more recognition for unpaid carers. “We deserve better,” says Mrs Styles, who is urging people to sign a petition she has set up to put pressure on the Government.

Carers’ Resource, in Shipley, supports 16,000 unpaid carers districtwide. Chief executive Chris Whiley says the charity is frustrated that the Government has abandoned plans for an updated national Carers Strategy, first promised in 2014. “A national strategy sets the tone for how the nation should treat unpaid carers, who provide help and support to anyone who could not otherwise manage because of frailty, illness or disability,” says Chris.“Having a framework that recognises the enormous contribution carers make would mean that employers, local authorities and the NHS would be given clear directions about taking carers into consideration when planning how to use their resources. A national strategy wouldn’t immediately help the average carer, but it would go some way to changing the attitudes of decision-making bodies.”

She adds: “The Government said late last year that the Carers Strategy will instead be encompassed into the Social Care Green Paper this summer but a carers’ action plan would be published in January. This didn’t materialise. Our concern is that recognition of carers will get lost in a Green Paper with such a wide remit.”

Last month Bradford South MP Judith Cummins (Labour) asked in Parliament when the action plan would be published. Health and Social Care Minister Caroline Dinenage replied: “The Department will shortly be publishing its action plan on carers, setting out a cross-Government programme of targeted work to support carers over the next two years. The Department wants to make sure the strategic issues facing carers are at the heart of proposals on social care, and will therefore be considering these questions as part of the Green Paper rather than through a separate national carers strategy.”

Carers’ Resource is urging people to sign the petition - at - calling on the Government to reconsider creating a standalone Carers Strategy. Mrs Styles said: “An action plan is not a Carers Strategy. Signing this petition will show Government that carers matter.”

The call is backed by Carers’ Resource and local MPs. Shipley MP Philip Davies (Conservative), visited Carers’ Resource’s Shipley office to meet carers and has written to ministers about the Carers Strategy. He said: “I will also take this up for you (Carers’ Resource) with the Minister and send you his response as soon as I receive it.”

Judith Cummins said: “All too often unpaid carers are forgotten about, but their role in our society is vital. The Government must show they have not forgotten about them and take action as soon as possible by publishing a Carers Strategy.”

Keighley MP John Grogan (Labour) said: “Carers come from all different backgrounds and range in age, from teenagers looking after parents to people in their 90s looking after partners. It’s important that as a society we recognise their contribution and develop a national strategy to value and assist them.”

Bradford East MP Imran Hussain (Labour) said: “Carers do a fantastic job, but the care system is struggling from Government cuts. Too many carers go without support, struggle to make ends meet, and struggle with health problems as a result. It’s not right that people who do so much and who gave up valuable time to contribute to a consultation get so little in return. The Government must publish this strategy before the Social Care Green Paper and show carers that their lives and contributions are important with a consultation with carers and experts on how we can move from the current broken system of care.”