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Future of Carers Allowance Unclear

The government published its White Paper on Welfare Reform yesterday leaving questions relevant to carers still unanswered.

The proposed Universal Credit will replace some named benefits, whilst other benefits such as Disability Living Allowance will remain separate. On Carer’s Allowance the Government can only advise that they are currently considering whether changes to the Carer’s Allowance will be necessary to take account of the introduction of the Universal Credit.

However, the Government also advises that additional amounts could be added within Universal Credits to recognise people who are providing care. A situation where two benefits recognise the same thing would seem to contradict the Government’s aim of simplifying the benefit system. The Government appears to be unsure what to do, despite recognising that Carer’s Allowance is ineffective in keeping carers out of poverty.

As part of the Universal Credit, the Government have laid out stronger conditionality and have proposed that some carers will be exempt from this. People providing intensive and regular levels of care or are the lead carer for children aged under 5 will have lower or no levels of conditionality. The Princess Royal Trust for Carers thinks that the use of a couple having to nominate a ‘lead carer’ could push some into heavier caring roles rather than sharing caring duties.

Moira Fraser, Director of Policy at The Princess Royal Trust for Carers, comments:

“Carers will be left confused by the Government’s White Paper on welfare reform published yesterday, as the future of Carer’s Allowance remains unclear.

“Though we welcome the Government’s recognition that Carer’s Allowance is an ineffective benefit and does not keep carers out of poverty, we are concerned that the Government appears to be unsure of what to do next. We are urging them to completely overhaul the current system so that every carer is entitled to a decent income and a better quality of life. Carers need change now.”

The Government hopes to process new claimants for Universal Credit from October 2013 and begin the process of transferring people on existing benefits into the new system from 2014. They have promised that existing recipients will not receive less when transferring over to the Universal Credit.

The Government have also advised that if benefit recipients return to work, they hope to reduce benefits at a rate of 65% which they say is lower than what many currently experience.

Note:

For further information, please read the DWP Welfare Reform White Paper Summary

The full proposals are available at: http://www.dwp.gov.uk/policy/welfare-reform/legislation-and-key-documents/universal-credit/

 

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