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Response to Welfare Reform

11 November 2010
Carers UK respond to the Government's welfare reform White Paper 'Universal Credit: welfare that works'

Chief Executive Imelda Redmond CBE, said:

"Carers UK welcomes some key principles in the White Paper, which could deliver a simpler, less complex benefits system for disabled people and their families.

There are nearly 500,000 working-age people currently in receipt of Carer's Allowance. Over half of these carers, those who currently receive a carer premium to Income Support or Jobseeker's Allowance will be moved to the new Universal Credit, and we are pleased that their benefits will not be conditional on seeking work alongside caring. However the remaining 245,000 who receive Carer's Allowance will be left with a benefit which is stuck in the 1970s, and we are disappointed that Government did not take this opportunity for reform.

Every day, carers face many of the difficult challenges that this White Paper is specifically designed to address – poverty, disincentives to work or study and systemic complexity and inflexibility in welfare. This package of reform was a key opportunity to tackle these challenges for carers and deliver the support and recognition that carers need. In announcing the White Paper the Government stated that it now is the time to grasp the nettle, and find solutions to some of the perennial problems in welfare. Carers will ask why their benefit alone has been left on the 'too difficult' pile.

We understand that there are real challenges in reforming Carer's Allowance. Any system would need to retain a universal benefit which does not force people who are caring for loved-ones to look for work, or deliver a regressive means-test which would leave some carers with no independent income of their own. However carers are living in poverty and hardship now, and reform cannot be postponed any longer.

The Government has said that it will now look carefully at what happens to Carer's Allowance. We urge them to bring forward urgent plans for a radical overhaul of the Allowance, to give carers a decent income and help those who are able, to juggle caring with work or study."

Notes:

Approximately 255,400 Carers who currently receive the Carer Premium (an additional amount for those with caring responsibilities) to Income Support and Jobseeker's Allowance would be moved to the new Universal Credit. The White Paper states that these carers would be exempt from 'back to work' benefits conditionality.

The remaining 245,000 carers will remain on Carer's Allowance.

The full White Paper can be found at www.dwp.gov.uk/docs/universal-credit-full-document.pdf

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