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Campaign wins Government commitment on future of carers’ benefits

20 January 2012

Whilst expressing ongoing concerns about the Government’s Welfare Reform Bill, Carers UK has welcomed an ‘absolute assurance’ from the Government this week, that the link between Carer’s Allowance and Personal Independence Payment will be written into legislation.

In December, following campaigning from Carers UK and pressure from MPs and Peers of all parties, the Government brought forward a decision on how Carer’s Allowance would be linked to Personal Independence Payment, which is replacing Disability Living Allowance. Lord Freud, Minister for Welfare Reform, announced that both rates of the Personal Independence Payment ‘daily living’ component (which is replacing the Disability Living Allowance care component’) would act as ‘gateways’ to Carer’s Allowance. Carers UK had raised strong concerns that only the highest rate of Personal Independence Payment would be linked to Carer’s Allowance, meaning that fewer carers would be entitled to support.

Carers UK welcomed the decision, which helps to maintain carers’ existing rights to Carer’s Allowance, but urged the Government to add these rights to the Welfare Reform Bill to ensure these rights maintained their status in law rather than being downgraded to ‘regulations’ which hold less weight that legislation.

Carers UK worked with crossbench Peers including Baroness Hollins, a Professor of Psychiatry and Learning Disability and equalities champion Baroness Howe, alongside Labour Peers to table amendments to the Welfare Reform Bill. This week, responding to those amendments, Lord Freud gave an ‘absolute assurance’ that powers in the Welfare Reform Bill would be used to make the necessary changes to the legislation and put the position of these rights ‘beyond doubt.’

In the debate, Members of the House of Lords also raised Carers UK’s deep concerns about the devastating impact of planned cuts to disability benefits, which will lead to 500,000 fewer disabled people being entitled to benefits when Personal Independence Payment replaces Disability Living Allowance. Peers pressed Lord Freud on when the Government would publish an impact assessment examining the impact of these cuts on carers.

You can find the full debate in the House of Lords here and Carers UK's latest welfare reform briefing in our policy briefing archive

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