Carers UK, Carers Allowance and Human Rights

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If Carers UK really are "the voice of carers" it's little wonder that the UK Government are breaching Article 25 Section 1 of the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights which states that:

Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.

I've just searched this whole website and not seen 1 mention of the fact that the miserly rate of £59.75 per Carer's Allowance is breaching our human rights. With Carers UK as our voice it's little wonder we're trampled on.
Hi Weemart: just a few thoughts in response - but please remember I'm a carer and do not represent Carers UK: I can't speak for them. This is just my take on the situation.

Carers UK have been campaigning about Carers Allowance being far too low for a number of years now. The Human Rights angle is one that the government would argue that there are sufficient safety nets to ensure that people are not in poverty.

While Carers UK may well disagree with that, the Human Rights argument would have to go through a court to have any effect - and the chances of winning against the government are exceedingly slim.

However, Carers UK are campaigning about the effects of the current benefits cuts (and forthcoming ones), and have been gathering evidence to make the case for better support for carers.
It's complicated. Yes: CA is far too low for those who rely on it alone, it's an insult. But many carers also have other sources of income, including work, other benefits, pensions, and spouses earnings, so I guess it all depends on circumstances. We are quite well off, and whilst I claim CA, we would not fall into the category of poverty by any reasonable definition.
Hi,

sorry if I sounded a bit angry on my previous post.

We might not be living in poverty but since the Carers Allowance amounts to £3107 a year and working part-time we are only allowed to earn £100 per week maximum (after deductions) this means we are expected to achieve all the things laid out in Article 25, section 1 of the UN DOHR with only £8307 per year maximum.

To put this into perspective.... My local MP is Danny Alexander. Several years ago I met with him with regards to the rates of Carer's Allowance. His response was to send me a letter which stated that he was proud to be part of a Government that's currently reviewing all benefits. We are all aware of what effect the governments benefits review has been. Now, Danny Alexander earns £135,000 per year. In 2 years he claimed over £8000 in travel expenses for his children. This means the man who is Chief Secretary to the Treasury and therefore partly responsible for how the UK government spends it's budget needs to claim more money in travel expenses for his children than what we get in carer's allowance despite his massive salary.

http://www.inverness-courier.co.uk/News ... 072013.htm

I asked the Equality Advisory service about my claim that the UK is breaching Human Rights with the current rates of Carers Allowance.

Their reply was:

From: Equality Advisory Support Service
Sent: ‎23‎ ‎August‎ ‎2013 ‎13‎:‎05
To:
Subject: Hi, I believe that the current rate of Carer's Allowance in the uk (£59.75 per ... [Enquiry]

Recently you requested personal assistance from our on-line support centre. Below is a summary of your request and our response.

If this issue is not resolved to your satisfaction, you may reopen it within the next 30 days.

Thank you for allowing us to be of service to you.

To access your question from our support site, click here.

Subject
Hi, I believe that the current rate of Carer's Allowance in the uk (£59.75 per ...

Discussion Thread
Response Via Email (Samantha Halliwell) 23/08/2013 13:05

Date: 23rd August 2013

Reference Number: 130822-000133

Subject: UN Convention of Human Rights

Dear

Thank you for your email to the Equality Advisory Support Service dated the 22nd August 2013.

I understand from your email that you believe there is a breach of article 25 of the UN Convention of Human Rights in regards to Carers’ Allowance.

The UN Convention of Human Rights is not law, it is an agreement which government strive to achieve. The UK has the Human Rights Act which is law and is enforceable by the courts.

Every law within the UK is written to be compatible with the Human Rights Act.

Please find below the articles under the Human Rights Act. If you feel there is a breach of any of this, please let me know and I can outline that article for you.

Article 2 – Right to Life

Article 3 – Right to be free from torture, inhuman and degrading treatment

Article 4: Right to be free from slavery and forced labour

Article 5: Right to Liberty

Article 6: Right to fair trial

Article 7: No punishment without law

Article 8: Right to private and family life, home and correspondence

Article 9: Thought conscience and religion

Article 10: Freedom of expression

Article 11: Freedom of assembly and association

Article 12: Marriage and founding a family

Article 14: Right to non-discrimination

Protocol 1, Article 1: Protection of property

Protocol 1, Article 2: Right to Education

Protocol 1, Article 3: Right to free elections

I hope this information is of use to you. Please return to us if you feel any of the articles above have been breached.

Regards,

Samantha

Equality Advisory Support Service


I have therefore followed up with the following query to them:


From:
Sent: ‎24‎ ‎August‎ ‎2013 ‎14‎:‎36
To: Equality Advisory Support Service
Subject: RE: Hi, I believe that the current rate of Carer's Allowance in the uk (£59.75 per ... [Enquiry]

Thank you for your reply.

From what I can see Article 25 Section 1 of the UN DOHR doesn’t appear to be intregated into the UK’s Human Rights Act.

Wouldn’t any government which fails to incorporate any section of the UN DOHR into their own human rights laws not then be in breach of Article 2 of the UN DOHR and therefore deliberately not striving towards achieving the rights set out?

Article 2:

Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status. Furthermore, no distinction shall be made on the basis of the political, jurisdictional or international status of the country or territory to which a person belongs, whether it be independent, trust, non-self-governing or under any other limitation of sovereignty.

regards
now been 3 days since I emailed the eass back. They're supposed to reply within 24 hours.

I've backed them into a corner from which they can't get out but they are being silent cos they know I don't have the resources to take them further.

This is where the carers organisations should be coming in and taking control. At present everything is too disjointed and unorganised. It's time for all the care and disabled organisations to pull resources, act together and campaign as 1. By pulling all the ppl they r supposedly representing together we would have a much louder voice and perhaps proper representation.
I also note that no1 from Carers UK replied to my 1st post.

They don't want to rock the boat. Which proves what I'm saying.

If they really want to be "The voice of carers" it's time they stood up.

Stand up and be a person, be a voice and campaign to get the rights to which we deserve.

Otherwise don't claim to be "the voice of carers". You certainly aren't my voice.
If you mean No1Mum - like me, she's a carer and a volunteer on this forum. That's it. Neither of us are able to speak for CUK, any more than anyone else.

However, as far as your current claims to EASS are concerned, my own view is that the only equal rights argument you may have is that CA is the lowest benefit of its type, based on a dependant's benefit rather than as a claimant in their own right. Which means, basically, that it should match Jobseeker's Allowance or ESA.

Now, that would be an improvement, but it's lower than CUK's campaign for CA to match the level of Retirement Pension.
Charles I think the gentleman meant that no one from Carers UK had commented - not No 1 Mum - that's my reading of it anyway (although of course I could be wrong Image )

Eun
Hi Eun - you could be right.

In which case I'd best point out that the staff who monitor this site only work part time and it's quite likely they haven't seen it yet.
Hi all,

Sorry we haven't responded sooner - with lots of activity on the Forum we don't always spot specific questions for us straight away.

Weemart - thanks for your comments and the Human Rights angle has come up in different ways of ways before - around carers' rights to practical as well as financial support. Carers UK has discussed this approach with lawyers in the past and they have clearly advised us that the law doesn't give us grounds to challenge Carer's Allowance on human rights grounds.

As others have mentioned in this thread, these kinds of cases are very hard to win anyway, and, unlike some of the big charities, we haven't had the resources to take legal cases on carers behalf - which can be incredibly costly. Our policy team is also small and I'm the only staff member working on benefits - compared to some organisations who have whole teams working on this!

However none of that takes away from our determination to fight hard on carers' benefits. Our campaigns, led by our members, have been clear throughout the last few decades that the level of Carer's Allowance is both an insult to carers' contribution and also fails to prevent carers facing financial hardship and debt. We have called for urgent reform of the financial support for carers and this is a key part of our Caring & Family Finances Inquiry which is currently gathering evidence from carers across the country and will deliver a final report and recommendations at the end of the year.

The challenge we face in campaigning around benefits has also changed in the last few years - as well as continuing to argue for improvements, we are now having to fight to keep the limited, and often inadequate, support that families already receive.

We succeeded in fighting to keep Carer's Allowance from being means-tested and brought under the new Universal Credit - which would have meant hundreds of thousands of carers losing it because they had a small amount of other income or savings or a partner who worked. We have been campaigning against the huge cuts to disability benefits which will see around 600,000 fewer disabled people eligible for support. We said repeatedly, and ensured that MPs and Members of the House of Lords did as well, that it was completely unacceptable that the Government failed to tell us how carers would be affected by the cuts to disability benefits and we now know that almost 10,000 fewer carers will be entitled to Carer's Allowance as a result of the people they care for not qualifying for disability benefits.

We have had some limited successes, like ensuring that Carer's Allowance increases with inflation (unlike some other benefits including those received by carers and their families), but Government has also failed to listen on things like the 'bedroom tax'.

A list of our campaigning and policy work on this is here www.carersuk.org/get-involved/finances- ... k-has-done

So, previously when we argued for Carer's Allowance to be reviewed as a benefit we were putting forward arguments about the ways in which it could be improved. But in the current environment, reviews of benefits have led to cuts to their budgets and to reductions in the number of people who can access them. So as we call for carers' benefits to be reviewed we have to set out watertight evidence on how they should not be cut as well as how they could be improved.

It is a difficult balance when we have very limited resources. We have to try and ensure we continue to argue for urgent improvements but ensuring we spend time examining very closely at the changes the Government is making, so that as we fight for a better deal we don't risk missing how things risk getting worse elsewhere in the system.

Sorry for such a long answer - does that help at all?

Best wishes,

Steve
Carers UK