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Carers UK statement on Breakthrough Britain

11 July 2007

A Conservative Party think-tank has published a report called 'Breakthrough Britain' which contains a number of recommendations on how to support the UK's 6 million carers. Imelda Redmond, Chief Executive of Carers UK responds to the report findings:

Carers UK warmly welcomes the recommendations made by the Conservative Party's Social Justice Policy Group on valuing the role of carers and raising the level of financial support carers receive. This significant report, 'Breakthrough Britain', reinforces many of the proposals we have been asking the Government to take forward. The analysis supports our call for a full and thorough review of income, benefits and opportunities to work for carers.

The Policy Group under Dr Samantha Callan and former Conservative Party Leader, Iain Duncan Smith, recommends nearly doubling Carers Allowance and changing the tax and benefit rules to enable carers to keep more of their own income - such as their salary or their pension - without losing their entitlement to Carers Allowance.

At present, carers providing over 35 hours a week of care to someone who is on the middle or upper rate of Disability Living Allowance or Attendance Allowance qualify to receive the Carers Allowance of just £48.65. This is the lowest benefit of its kind.

If carers earn over £87 per week the benefit is completely withdrawn. Those caring for under 35 hours a week are not entitled to Carers Allowance. Carers are very understandably angry about the current derisory amount of Carers Allowance. It does not reflect either the contribution they make or the hidden costs associated with disability. The rules make it very difficult for carers to build up a decent pension to support themselves and their loved-ones in retirement.

The Policy Group recommends raising the allowable earnings limit to £100 after which a taper will apply, ensuring that carers do not lose all their Carers Allowance at once if they exceed the limit. We believe this is a step in the right direction and a move which complements other progressive steps Carers UK has campaigned for, such as boosting pension rights for carers and promoting flexible working to enable carers to balance employment with their caring responsibilities.

Carers UK's aim is to ensure carers have the same opportunities to a proper, living income as everyone else. We work with all political parties to ensure that carers get a fairer deal. We express our hope that David Cameron and the Conservative Party accept these recommendations as official policy.

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