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Looking ahead to the budget

16 March 2016

Chloe Wright, Policy and Public Affairs Manager, Carers UK 

 PIP

The planned changes to how aids and appliances are considered in entitlement for the Personal Independence Payment (PIP) announced by the Disability Minister last Friday will mean that some 640,000 disabled people will be affected – either receiving a lower level of support or losing entitlement to PIP altogether.

For those providing unpaid care to someone affected, this could mean that they too lose support by removing their entitlement to Carer’s Allowance. Carer’s Allowance is the main benefit for carers and can only be claimed when the person they care for is receiving certain disability benefits.

These cuts will be a double whammy for those families who lose some or all of their PIP and lose entitlement to Carer’s Allowance at the same time.

We raised this in our response to the Government’s recent consultation, warning of the adverse impact of a change on family and friends providing care. We also joined with other charities as part of the Disability Benefits Consortium to highlight concerns about the impact on disabled people and their families of any changes to PIP.  It is very disappointing that the Government's consultation response fails to mention carers at all and completely ignores the impact of this change on them.

As part of the Minister’s statement last week a wider reform of disability benefits was also announced. We await more detail on this but it is vital that whatever is proposed, the impact on carers is not ignored again. The unpaid care they provide is worth £132 billion per year, yet these same families are too often ending up in financial hardship themselves.

Earnings threshold

Carers UK has written to Work and Pensions Minister Justin Tomlinson MP asking him to increase the earnings threshold for those receiving Carer’s Allowance ahead of the rise in the minimum wage this April.

It’s an issue where Carers UK has campaigned for change over many years calling for the Government to align any rise in the minimum wage with the earnings threshold for Carer’s Allowance in order to prevent carers from losing out on vital support. In our recent submission to the Treasury ahead of the 2016 Budget Carers UK once more asked the Government to act to stop carers having to choose to cut their hours of paid work or miss out on financial support.

Read more about the Carer’s Allowance earnings threshold.

Social care funding

The key funding announcements in the Comprehensive Spending Review, of a Social Care Precept and extra investment in the Better Care Fund, provided long awaited recognition that our care system is now in crisis. However, this money clearly falls far short what is needed to address this crisis, with independent analysis demonstrating the gap in funding is expected to reach between £2.8 billion and £3.5 billion by the end of this Parliament.  

The Local Government Association has found that 9 in 10 councils plan to use the 2% social care precept. The LGA estimate that the precept will raise £372 million, and have said that the money will largely be sent on dealing the cost of the National Living Wage. It is also the case that raising money through the precept means that in wealthier areas of the country, more money will be raised but in less affluent areas, where the need is higher, these councils will find it more difficult to raise the money they require.

This Budget provides another important opportunity for the Government to address the funding gap in social care and put in place enough funding to allow older and disabled people to live independently and enable carers to have the support they need to care well, safely and have a life outside caring.

Following the Budget statement, Carers UK will have a briefing on the key announcements affecting carers.

Carers UK’s submission to the Budget is here.

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