Letter from Kevin Foster MP and our reply

Published: 31 August 2018

Dear Mr Bayliffe,

On behalf of Mr Foster thank you for completing the Data Protection Notice and for contacting Mr Foster about carers allowance.

Mr Foster recognises the valuable contribution made by carers, many of whom spend a significant proportion of their life providing support to family members, friends and neighbours. That is why a new cross-Government National Carers Strategy is being introduced to look at what more can be done to support existing and future carers. After a lengthy consultation with carers themselves, the Government recently announced a two-year programme of support for carers. This includes support for young carers, effective action to help carers balancing their caring and employment responsibilities, and ensuring that health and social care services are responsive to their needs.

In the meantime, the Government is continuing to support the implementation of improved rights for carers, enshrined in the Care Act 2014. The Department of Health provided £104 million of funding to local authorities for these rights in 2015/16, which include an extended right to assessment and, for the first time, a duty on local authorities to meet carers' eligible needs for support.

Furthermore, the Government is continuing to provide local councils with the money it needs to provide social care services and support carers. In 2017, £2 billion was announced for social care, and a further £150 million was given to local authorities to meet their social care responsibilities this year.

With regards to your comments about the increase in carers allowance in Scotland, this is a decision which has been made by the Scottish Parliament which is a devolved administration. I enclose below some information I have sourced from the House of Commons Library on this subject which I hope you find useful:

The Carer’s Allowance Supplement in Scotland

The Scotland Act 2016 devolves to the Scottish Parliament responsibility for certain benefits, including benefits for carers. The Scottish Parliament has the power to introduce additional benefits in the areas now devolved, replace existing benefits with new benefits or other payments and to determine the structure and value of such provision. As explained in section 7 of our Commons Library briefing on Carer’s Allowance(updated 19 July 2018), the Scottish Government is to introduce a Carer’s Allowance Supplement, to raise the level of Carer’s Allowance to that of Jobseeker’s Allowance. The first payments of the Carer’s Allowance Supplement are due to be made from mid-September 2018, backdated to April 2018 – see the Scottish Government press release Extra financial support for carers, 28 August 2018.

Any additional expenditure incurred in Scotland as a result of changes in benefit provision vis-à-vis the rest of Great Britain has to be met entirely from the Scottish Government Budget. This includes the Carer’s Allowance Supplement, which the Scottish Government estimates will cost more than £30 million a year.

A written answer in May this year gave an estimate of how much increasing the Carer’s Allowance to the level of Jobseekers’ Allowance might cost:

Carers: Written question - 141782

Asked by Alex Cunningham (Stockton North)

Asked on: 08 May 2018

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what estimate she has made of the number of carers; what estimate she has made of the cost to the public purse of increasing the level of carer’s allowance to the existing level of contributions-based jobseeker’s allowance for people aged 25 and over; and what estimate she has made of the cost to the public purse of increasing the carer premium by the current difference between carer’s allowance and contributions-based jobseeker’s allowance for people aged 25 and over.

A

Answered by: Sarah Newton

Answered on: 15 May 2018

The level of Carer’s Allowance (CA) is protected by uprating it annually in line with the Consumer Price Index (CPI). Since 2010 the rate of CA has increased from £53.90 to £64.60 a week, meaning an additional £550 a year for carers. In 2022/23 the Government is forecast to spend £3.7 billion on CA, a 36% real terms increase in expenditure on 2016/17.

Additionally, carers have access to the full range of social security benefits according to their circumstances. There are carer “premiums” in income-related benefits, such as Income Support, Housing Benefit and Universal Credit. These amounts recognise the additional contribution and responsibilities associated with caring and mean that lower-income carers can receive more than others who receive these benefits. For example, in 2017, 6 out of ten households on Universal Credit with a Carer Entitlement recorded received a Monthly Award Amount of over £400: this is in addition to any CA they may receive.

According to the Family Resources Survey (2016/17), there were an estimated 5.4 million informal carers in the United Kingdom in 2016/17. Only some of these receive Carer’s Allowance.

DWP can provide a broad illustrative gross cost of paying an extra £8.50 a week (the current difference between the rate of CA and the Jobseeker’s Allowance over 25 rate) to 810,000 CA recipients (rounded down CA in-payment cases in Great Britain, August 2017). This would have cost in the region of £360m in 2018/19. (Around 9% of this expenditure covers carers living in Scotland where CA will shortly be devolved to the Scottish Government.) Actual costs will also be affected by possible behavioural impacts, such as whether the higher rates of benefit will encourage more people to claim CA and, therefore, may be higher than the indicative forecast costs. The information requested on premiums is not available.

More general information on carers and on Government policy towards carers can be found in the Commons Library briefing CBP-7756, Carers, 22 November 2017.

I hope you find this information useful.

Best wishes,

Kathryn Ruffles

Parliamentary Assistant to Kevin Foster MP

Office of Kevin Foster MP

5-7 East Street

Torquay

TQ2 5SD

 

My reply was as follows:

Thank you the information on Carers allowances and that of the Scottish Parliament to increase Carers Allowance to equal The Job Seekers Allowance in that a devolved Parliament made the decision to provide this additional help.

However when reading your updates on support , it is obvious that most if not all additional funding found it’s way into the hands of the private sector Care Service Providers and not into the hands of the hard pressed Carers themselves.
As a three times Carer, now tied to my mentally ill wife, demand by right a sensible Carers Allowance circa £99-00 per week and free from any income assessment.
As what you are saying is because I looked after Three wives during the past forty years, run businesses ,being driven almost to extinction several times, paid my stamp through forty years of working, am expected to pay for my loved ones Care.
Being in receipt of the State Pension, which I paid for, am as a result excluded from claiming any Carers Allowance, even though my taxes and NIC paid for our after care.
I was assessed and rejected from any free help being offered, quite honestly the Carers available were less than 2* anyway.
So I have to pay for everything which is unconstitutional and totally biased in favour of those whom haven’t worked and paid their dues. Also that the Government has no right to exclude those in receipt of a fully paid up State Pension from claiming Carers Allowance.
There is no additional help for people like me and that is an infringement of my democratic right. I shall petition Carers to take the incumbent Government to Court for breach of our common law rights.I didn’t want to be a Carer, yet forced to be by an incompetent Government on social care issues.
Please arrange for me to meet a Senior Minister on this subject and yes could bring my sick wife with me to meet them ,as she cannot be left on her own .
Terry Bayliffe