New benefit proposed for unpaid carers

New benefit proposed for unpaid carers

Ben Macpherson

Views are being sought on plans to improve support for Scotland’s community of unpaid carers through the introduction of a new benefit.

Under Scottish Government proposals, Scottish Carer’s Assistance will replace Carer’s Allowance, currently delivered by the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP), and be delivered by Social Security Scotland.

It will support over 80,000 people who provide 35 hours per week or more of care to those receiving certain disability benefits. An additional payment of more than £500 a year will be made to those who care for more than one person.

A consultation published today outlines proposals aimed at improving the service that carers receive, including increased financial support and links to wider support in areas such as social care, employability, education and bereavement.

It also highlights how support could be expanded once those already in receipt of Carer’s Allowance have been transferred from DWP to Social Security Scotland.

Social security minister Ben Macpherson said: “Caring for a loved one can be a positive and life changing experience but also presents many challenges. We will deliver Scottish Carer’s Assistance in a compassionate and considerate way, linking carers to wider services.

“We will also create a weekly payment of £10 for those caring for more than one person, and if the person they care for is challenging a change to their disability benefits we will make support available.

“This is in addition to continuing support for young carers and maintaining the extra support from our Carer’s Allowance Supplement, providing eligible carers with an extra £460 a year.”

He added: “When we have introduced our new benefit, and safely and securely transferred people from Carer’s Allowance to Scottish Carer’s Assistance, we intend to make further improvements. We will look for opportunities to make these changes sooner if we can do so without putting carers’ existing benefits at risk.

“These further changes would help remove barriers to education, allow carers to add together hours spent caring for more than one person to qualify for support, extend support after the loss of a cared for person or when a cared for person is in hospital, and enable carers to earn more from paid work.

“We want to hear people’s views on these plans, other potential changes beyond these, and thoughts on how improvements would help address inequality and poverty.”

Fiona Collie, policy & public affairs manager at Carers Scotland, commented: “Carers Scotland is very pleased to welcome the publication of this consultation on proposals for Scottish Carer’s Assistance and a new Carer Additional Person Payment to support unpaid carers.

“This opportunity to improve the main financial support for carers in Scotland is an important one and carers have long discussed ways in which it can be changed to recognise their caring and better meet their needs.

“I would encourage as many carers as possible to respond and bring their views and experiences to the consultation, either individually or through events and activities that are planned.”

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