+ 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have not yet received an official reply to our petition, responding to objections from carers, the Government have now withdrawn their proposal to move carers on income support to job seekers allowance.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 carer benefits separate from the rest of the benefit system. Carers have to provide a minimum of 35 hours a week care in order to qualify for Carers Allowance; care that would otherwise have to be provided by state-funded social care staff at a considerably higher cost to the taxpayer. Without carers our NHS & Social care system would collapse.
Despite warm words from politicians praising the ‘amazing work’ that carers do the reality is that the Government does not value carers or caring. Carers Allowance is the lowest earnings replacement benefit at just £50.55 a week. A recent study by a carers’ charity shows that three quarters of carers struggle to pay essential bills & more than half of them are in debt. Delaying dealing with carer benefits will impose further hardship on present & future carers.
We believe that the Government should act now to fully recognise the work carers do in supporting the whole of society & protect carers from becoming impoverished by rewarding carers in real personal financial terms.
We hope that you will continue to support us: http://carerwatchdotcom.myfineforum.org/index.php