Liberal Democrats promise £250 Carer’s Bonus

Care in the home Some rights reserved by British Red CrossNick Clegg has announced that a Liberal Democrat Government would give carers an annual payment of £250. This comes on top of several measures introduced in Government to help those who care for family members, both practical and financial,  including;

  • £800m Department for Education funding to local authorities to fund short breaks for disabled children and their families.
  • £400m Department of Health funding to the NHS to support carers to take breaks from caring responsibilities.
  • £3m Department of Health funding to improve awareness and understanding about carers among healthcare professionals.
  • £2.7m Department for Education funding to increase awareness and support for young carers in education and training schools.
  • Extending the right to request flexible working arrangements to all employees from last week.

This payment, because it’s linked to Carer’s Allowance, will apply across the whole of the UK, not just in England.

The new announcement would cost a Liberal Democrat Government up to £280 million a year. There is no indication of where that money will come from at this stage.

Nick Clegg said:

Carers are Britain’s unsung heroes. Up and down the country behind closed doors, you’ll find a hidden army of carers doing amazing things every day.

It is estimated that six in ten of us will at some point in our lives find ourselves caring for someone else – an elderly relative, a sick child, a friend who needs our support.

These are people who deserve our support even in straightened times, which is why the Liberal Democrat manifesto will include a Carer’s Bonus to give them a little extra help.

It’s completely up to the carers themselves how they spend it – it’s a no strings attached bonus from a party that is grateful for the superhuman work they do.

Health Minister Norman Lamb added:

We know how hard carers work and that one of the most important things to them is getting a break every now again.

It is why the Liberal Democrats will introduce this Carer’s Bonus if we are in government again after the General Election.

But it’s not for us to dictate to them what they do with it – carers know best how to spend the money in the way that will most benefit them and the people they care for.

I suspect there will be a certain amount of disquiet among Liberal Democrat activists. Some will be concerned about the cost and where the money is coming from. Others will want to have seen the plans approved by the Party’s democratic processes before being announced as a done deal. Both may have a point. However, I’ve just seen a friend of mine who is a carer say on Facebook that she’s glad someone is listening. That has to count for something.

Way back in the mists of time when I joined the SDP in 1983 and got the Social Democrat every couple of weeks, one of the issues that was always being talked about in its pages. Thirty years on, carers are still struggling. My immediate questions would be that if people did want to spend it on respite care, is there enough available in their area to enable them to do so?  In general, though, it’s good to see people getting the choice as to how they spend the money. That is a very liberal way of doing things rather than telling people that they need to take what they get. Individual needs require individual solutions.

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

Read more by or more about , , or .
This entry was posted in News.


  • Alisdair McGregor 3rd Jul '14 - 11:38am

    It’s a good idea. If & when it comes to a conference I’ll vote for it.

    Until then, HQ can stop sticking 2 fingers up at the parties democratic processes, thanks so much.

  • Caron Lindsay Caron Lindsay 3rd Jul '14 - 11:52am

    If you read the next post coming up, you’ll see where the idea is coming from, Alisdair.

    I hear what you are saying, but I doubt this one is going to be particularly controversial, to be honest.

  • Alisdair McGregor 3rd Jul '14 - 12:19pm

    Principle of the thing, Caron. While I know it won’t be controversial, I intrinsically object to HQ making announcements like this that haven’t followed the party’s democratic process. Has HQ learned nothing in the last 5 years?

  • Caron Lindsay Caron Lindsay 3rd Jul '14 - 12:23pm

    I get that. But it’s not as if the idea has been dreamt up by a group of special advisers – it comes from the democratically accountable FPC’s working group on ageing.

    I think the announcement could have been made today with a caveat that this was going to be discussed at the Conference. That would work, wouldn’t it?

  • Stephen Campbell 3rd Jul '14 - 12:24pm

    After the way this government (backed by the votes in Parliament of Liberal Democrat MPs) has treated both sick/disabled people and their carers, I don’t think I’ll be holding my breath on this. Sorry, but I don’t believe a word that comes out of Clegg’s mouth. Especially when he promises something.

    Besides, Clegg has been telling us for almost 5 years now that there is no money left (even though there’s plenty of money for things the government wants like HS2 and the monumental failure/waste that is IDS’s Universal Credit). He’s promising more money for carers yet this article says there is no idea where the money will come from. Isn’t that the line of attack people in this party have used against Labour for years now? They want to spend more but don’t know where the money is coming from? Why is it bad when Labour does it, but perfectly fine when Liberal Democrats do it?

  • David Evans 3rd Jul '14 - 12:26pm

    Amazing. I wonder whether voters will have greater doubt about there being a future Liberal Democrat Government or of Nick keeping a promise.

  • Alisdair McGregor 3rd Jul '14 - 12:26pm

    The trouble I perceive is that it becomes very hard for the party to backtrack once HQ has made such a decision. While not an issue with this item per se, it is a worrying precedent. What happens when something actually controversial comes along, is announced by HQ, and then the membership vote it down?

    We have procedures for a reason. They should be followed properly to avoid such complications.

  • Even if you are against austerity (which isnt happening as spending is mostly increasing), there must be some sense of doing the most with the resources we have.

    What problem does this fix, is the money better spent (or not spent) elsewhere?

  • Nick Clegg small print department:

    It would be only £125, not £250, until 2020.

  • David Allen 3rd Jul '14 - 1:50pm

    Another day, another giveaway.

  • The policy is also one that has been discussed by FPC – so (as with Steve Webb), Paul Burstow I think should be praised rather than criticised for taking care to take ideas through the party’s policy process before announcing them to the world, rather than do what some ministers have done of pre-empting the process completely.

  • The previous commentators are quite correct about the lack of regard for procedure, but it’s depressing too to see politics being reduced to ‘who can bribe which section of the electorate’ with the taxes of the working.

  • “I doubt this one is going to be particularly controversial, to be honest”

    Presumably on the basis that giving money to carers is a nice thing to do and nobody could possibly disagree with it? But isn’t that a bit simplistic when we’re told public money is in such short supply that even the vulnerable and low-paid have to do their bit in balancing the books? Doesn’t that mean it’s essential to be rigorous in assessing whether the money is going to be fairly distributed – whether, for example, it’s fair that none of it goes to retired carers who will be ineligible because they receive a state pension? I’d have thought that elderly carers would be in at least as much need of relief as younger ones.

  • And no doubt I’ll lay myself open to more accusations of nit-picking, but am I the only one who winces when he sees howlers like “straightened times” in these official pronouncements? Could the party not get someone literate to look over such statements before they’re issued?

  • daft ha'p'orth 3rd Jul '14 - 11:32pm

    Education is a luxury. You wouldn’t want the party to be wasting money on luxuries, would you? 😉

  • How dare you abuse carers like this – using us for electioneering when nothing will come of it! I’m so angry about this. Prior to the last election you all opened the live TV debates with praise for carers and promising to help us. All you’ve done is kick us in the teeth. Huge council tax bills for carers on benefits, bedroom tax, less support – not that there was much to start with!

    Oh in the past we’ve heard all about carers’ grants and carers’ breaks funding – not that many of us have actually received it – no doubt it was all spent on coffee and biccies in the offices of officialdom!

    In October 2011 I raised carers issues with Clegg as he sat on stage at Cheltenham Literature Festival – he claimed he was interested, he claimed he wanted to know about these issues. They took my details – it was all an act – nothing came of it.

    Tell you what – get your calculator out ans work out how much I should have received in carer’ grants and breaks funding over the years – then send me the cheque!

    What was that? No – I thought not!

  • Stephen Donnelly 4th Jul '14 - 10:06am

    I don’t have any particular objection to this, but as an ordinary member I don’t feel that I have been involved in the process or consulted. I suppose those few on the FPC do. I have a feeling that the manifesto has been written, and we are being drip fed the results. Mark and Caron : I’m not far out am I?

    Every commitment we make means there is less money available for other areas of expenditure. The NHS for instance.

  • I think we should concentrate our comments on the policy itself rather than how it has emerged. One concern I have is – how is it decided who qualifies as a carer in the sense required to trigger this benefit? I fear another wave of bureaucracy raising itself, apart altogether from the cost of the benefit itself.

  • Tony Rowan-Wicks 4th Jul '14 - 1:46pm

    As a carer myself, I spend thousands ‘in-house’ every year to prevent the NHS etc doing its duty – i.e. nothing. 250 pounds a year is nothing to make up for what the State will never do. No-one will ever vote for this silly amount.

  • matt (Bristol) 4th Jul '14 - 2:00pm

    Denis, to be honest, although I too am frustrated with this policy being overannounced, I can see the logic.

    Carer’s Allowance is (to a civil service sort of mindset) a nice, clear way of clarifying eligibility as a ‘carer’; you have to be providing regular, physical help equivalent to 35hrs per week. Everything else is pretty much a judgement call on the part of a practitioner / assessor; there is no nationally-administered lower level of carer benefit from central government – “carer’s break funding” (which DOES exist, despite the frustrations voiced above) is in the gift of the either the local NHS or the local authority.

    Anything else would be to create a new bureaucracy.

  • there is no nationally-administered lower level of carer benefit from central government

    I’m not an expert on this, by speaks of an “underlying entitlement” to Carer’s Allowance, which applies if you are unable to get the allowance because you are receiving another benefit (e.g. the state pension). Apparently the underlying entitlement confers eligibility for certain other benefits:

  • Matt – oh carers breaks funding exists alright – it just rarely gets spent on carers’ breaks! When I tried to find out how to apply I was rudely told to make a Freedom Of Information Request! Carers’ grants exsted but few people got them. There is evidence that some of ths monet is spent simply creating extra town hall jobs for people who do nothing of any use – they just sneak the word ‘carer’ somewhere into the job title.!

    If such funding is in the gift f the NHS or LAs then you can be sure as hell that they’re mostly gifting it to themselves!

    This latest loopy idea will go the same way. It woude better to increase benefits for carers in order to ensure that carers actually get money!

  • It’s a sweet idea, however you will be totally unable to even attempt to enact it as the party is now basically an irrelevance.

    Why not capitalise on that and announce some really revolutionary ideas? You’ll never get to even pretend to try and vote them through, but might actually get people talking about them.

Post a Comment

Lib Dem Voice welcomes comments from everyone but we ask you to be polite, to be on topic and to be who you say you are. You can read our comments policy in full here. Please respect it and all readers of the site.

To have your photo next to your comment please signup your email address with Gravatar.

Your email is never published. Required fields are marked *

Please complete the name of this site, Liberal Democrat ...?


Recent Comments

  • Geoffrey Payne
    (continued from previous message)...
  • Geoffrey Payne
    No one likes to talk about it, not even the Liberal Democrats, but we have a public sector funding crises. Our most successful campaigns; sorting out the sewage...
  • Geoffrey Payne
    We have to always be prepared for the unexpected. It is good politics therefore to claim that there may be an early General Election. However the usual rule a...
  • Tim Rogers
    As well as Ukraine and Gaza it is possible that Burma is about to implode. All the coups in West Africa remain unresolved. Venezuela might have a go at Guyana. ...
  • Tim Rogers
    I know that nobody will like it but we are already in a second cold war. The Moscow Beijing axis will grow,especially in Middle East and Africa. The Americans w...