CARERWATCH RESPONSE TO THE WHITE PAPER

Carer Watch would like to thank all those who supported our petition http://petitions.number10.gov.uk/caringiswork which closed on the 14th November 2008 with 1763 signatories. The petition called on the Prime Minister “to withdraw the proposal in the Welfare Reform Green Paper to transfer carers on Carers Allowance & Income Support to Job Seekers Allowance & to recognise carers valuable ‘social input’ by keeping carer benefits separate from the rest of the benefits system’ Although we have not yet received an official reply to our petition, responding  to objections from carers, the Government have now withdrawn their proposal to move carers on income support to job seekers allowance.  On 10th December the Government issued The White Paper, ‘Raising expectation & increasing support’, stating “we have amended our proposal & will not move carers from Income Support until we have a clear & detailed plan setting out how we will reform the benefits system over the longer term” Whilst Carer Watch welcome the fact that the Government has listened to carers & acknowledged that job seekers allowance is not an appropriate benefit for them we remain concerned about the effects of the White Paper proposals on vulnerable members of society including many of our carees.  We are also concerned that at the launch of the White Paper, Secretary of State for Work & Pensions James Purnell said that he wanted more debate about how carers might fit into a single benefit for all working age people (SWAB). Carer Watch do not believe that carers should be included in a SWAB. We believe that carers’ valuable ‘social input’ should be recognised by keeping...

ESA and Mental Health

Our campaign message on ESA and Mental Health is shaping up as –  ESA wasn’t designed for people with severe and enduring mental illness who are often fearful and suffer from paranoia. It was designed to put pressure on all kinds of other IB claimants suspected of malingering and therefore ESA involves an element of threat. This makes Mental Health a special case because of the adverse and unsafe way that threat and psychological pressure impact on the mentally ill. It is also unsafe for people other than mental health professionals to be tasked with exerting pressure on the mentally ill.  The special vulnerability of mental health claimants to pressure needs to be recognised and those with severe and enduring mental illness who are vulnerable to pressure should be identified by their own mental health teams and they should be exempted and taken out and protected from the menace factored in to this system. But this still isn’t good enough. They still need a better option than being put in the support group which is a depressing dead end.  So our campaign message is Firstly it should be the service user’s own mental health teams that are able to flag them up as vulnerable to pressure and allocate them to a group so they are not put through this threatening process at the job centre. Secondly we don’t think ‘conditionality’ is safe or productive for severe enduring mental illness and this is non negotiable. But the other option on offer is currently the support group which is a depressing dead end. We therefore want an intermediate category designed specifically...