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Letter to the Times

19 May 2010
Carers UK has written to the Times in response to an article suggesting benefits for carers and disabled people may be subject to means testing.

Dear Sir,

The suggestion in your article on 18th May that the Government is considering making disability and carers' allowances subject to a means-test will cause considerable distress to carers already struggling with the physical and financial impact of caring for ill and disabled friends or relatives.

It would be cruel to hit families affected by illness or disability with a double blow of reducing financial support for disabled people and cutting Carer's Allowance. On top of incomes already reduced by giving up work to care, the cost to families of disability and ill-health can amount to hundreds of pounds a month, and include increased heating bills, care at home, specialist equipment and the transport costs of frequent medical appointments. To cut their allowances risks pitching those who have saved into financial hardship – as many are already forced to use what savings they have to pay these costs.

There is no avoiding how tough the current public spending climate is, but such cuts do not make sense. Reducing these allowances would make caring for relatives financially impossible for many families – meaning that the state will have to step in, costing the taxpayer far more than any savings made from welfare bills.

During the Leaders' Debates we heard all three party leaders pledge to support these 'unsung heroes.' We call on the Government to follow these warm words with a pledge to increase, not cut, support for the 6 million who care.

Imelda Redmond CBE

Chief Executive, Carers UK

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