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Carers UK welcomes clarification on vital carers' benefits entitlements

12 December 2011

This afternoon, Government confirmed in the House of Lords that the eligibility for Carer’s Allowance, the main carer’s benefit, would not be tightened with the introduction of the new disability benefit, the Personal Independence Payment (PIP). 

In a response to questions from Peers and a direct question from Baroness Hollis, Lord Freud, Minister of State for Work and Pensions, stated that both rates of the daily living component of the new Personal Independence Payment would be used as a criterion to determine the entitlement to Carer’s Allowance.

The clarification from the Minister came after Peers from all sides of the House raised their concerns that the Welfare Reform Bill left the future of Carer’s Allowance unclear. The Minister made a commitment to make a statement at the start of Report stage of the Bill.

The Welfare Reform Bill will replace Disability Living Allowance (DLA) with a new benefit the Personal Independence Payment (PIP). Several elements of the benefit will change and the number of care components will fall from three in DLA to two daily living components in PIP.

Entitlement to Carer’s Allowance is currently established through a disabled person getting the middle or higher rate care component of Disability Living Allowance and there was a real concern that reducing the number of care components from three to 2 in the new disability benefit would squeeze out many carers.

Although it is worth only £55.55 per week and is the lowest benefit of its kind, Carer’s Allowance is vital income for around 550,000 people who care, unpaid, for family or close friends and who cannot work full time. To be eligible, carers also have to be providing at least 35 hours of care per week and earning less than £100 after deductions.

Emily Holzhausen, Director of Policy at Carers UK said, “We are pleased that Government has provided this clarification to carers worried about losing their entitlement to Carer’s Allowance in the future when the new Personal Independence Payment is introduced. Our advice line has been inundated with calls from families worried about how they will be affected and we have been unable to provide them with a clear response. Although there are still many elements to be decided about disability benefits including how the £2 billion worth of cuts will impact on disabled people and their families, this is a vital decision for carers announced today.  

She added, “The support provided by family and friends, unpaid to disabled, ill and elderly relatives is vital.  It is worth a staggering £119 billion to the state – more than the NHS.  Without their care, our society would collapse". 

- ENDS -

Notes to Editors:

1. Carers UK is a charity set up to support the millions of people who care for an elderly relative, a sick friend or a disabled family member. Carers UK:

• supports carers and provides information and advice about caring
• influences policy through our research based on carers’ real life experiences
• campaigns to make life better for carers.

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