Carers UK Response to Work and Pensions Select Committee Report ‘Valuing and Supporting
August 29, 2008
An influential committee of MPs have today published a report on the support available to carers. Carers UK has welcomed their call for replacement of the current ‘outdated’ carers’ benefits.
In its report ‘Valuing and supporting carers’ the Committee calls for carers benefits to be radically overhauled at the earliest opportunity. It recommends a two-tier support system for carers consisting of:
(i) a ‘Carer Support Allowance’ to be paid at the same level as Jobseeker’s Allowance and allowing similar levels of earnings as currently permitted under Carer’s Allowance. The benefit should not be means-tested.
(ii) a ‘Caring Costs Payment’ available to all carers in intensive caring roles to compensate them for the additional costs of caring. This would be set at somewhere between £25-50 per week, similar to Child Benefit.
The Chairman of the Committee, Labour MP Terry Rooney said: “DWP needs to provide adequate financial support for those who provide care when of working age, either by compensating them for the extra costs of caring, or, if they need to give up work to care, through adequate income replacement and pension protection mechanisms.”
Commenting on the Select Committee’s report, Imelda Redmond, Chief Executive of Carers UK said:
“We welcome the Committee’s acknowledgement that carers’ benefits are outdated and need urgent and radical reform. This cross-party report, informed by expert evidence, backs up what carers have been telling us. We argued for improvements to benefits as part of the Government’s Carers Strategy and were bitterly disappointed when none were included.
As well as being insultingly low at just £50.55 per week, Carer’s Allowance does not recognise carers’ individual circumstances and discourages them from combining caring with paid work.
The two-tier benefit recommended by the Committee would be a major improvement to the current system. Carers need a separate benefit which recognises that they are not unemployed but are making an important contribution to society.
Government has promised a review of benefits but the message from carers is clear: we can’t wait. Many carers are living in poverty and rising fuel and food prices are hitting them hard. Their unpaid contribution to society is worth £87 billion each year, yet Carer’s Allowance is just £50.55 per week. Carers deserve better and need change now.
We also welcome the Committee’s recommendation that public bodies should be required to ‘carer-proof’ their policies. Too often changes to local services have an impact on carers which isn’t thought through, for example when transport services are cut back it can stop carers from working.”
The Government is required to formally respond to these recommendations within three months.
Many of these recommendations accept what Carers UK called for in its evidence to the Committee and Carers UK is quoted extensively in the report.
‘Valuing and supporting carers’ can be downloaded from the Work and Pensions Select Committee website.
Find out more about Carers UK’s campaign Real Change not Short Change.
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