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Carers to be included in new savings scheme

27 February 2009

From 2010, there will be a new government supported saving scheme called the 'Saving Gateway' which will help people save by making a Government contribution of 50p for every pound saved. Yesterday the Government agreed to include carers in the scheme, with Economic Secretary Ian Pearson announcing that he will amend the legislation when it is next debated.

 

Carers Scotland and Carers UK had called for Carer's Allowance to be included in the list of qualifying benefits which would allow access to the scheme, arguing that it was unfair that carers were excluded when most other benefits were included. It is intended that savers will be able to pay up to £25 a month into their account for two years. At the end of the two years the government will make a contribution of 50 pence for each £1 they have saved.

Imelda Redmond, Chief Executive of Carers UK, said:

"We are pleased that Government has agreed to include carers in the groups eligible for the Savings Gateway. Whilst carers on low incomes won't have much spare cash to put into savings, this new scheme will mean that if they are able to put anything aside, they will see their money grow rapidly due to the Government contribution.

Labour MP and former carers' Minister Steve Ladyman had spearheaded the attempt to get Carer's Allowance included in the legislation. He argued that carers should be treated in the same way as other benefit claimants and during the debate yesterday he received the assurance that he had sought:

Treasury Minister Ian Pearson said: "I am happy to confirm to the House that I am certainly minded to put an amendment down for consideration in the [House of Lords] which would ensure that those in receipt of carer's allowance of working age should be able to qualify for opening a savings gateway account."

He added: "I think it's right that we always are open to listening to arguments, and when we find good and persuasive arguments then I think that we ought to be responding to them as a Government - and that indeed is what I have tried to do here."

Dr Hywel Francis MP, Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Carers, said

"I am grateful to the Minister Ian Pearson for listening to the arguments put forward by my fellow MPs and Carers UK. The Saving Gateway will have a real benefit for carers in helping them to save. Following the publication of the National Carers Strategy last year, Government needs to show that carers are a priority and that measures are being taken to improve their incomes, health and opportunities to work. The All Party Group will be ensuring that carers remain high on the agenda."

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