Paul Burstow MP writes..Carer’s Bonus is only the first new policy to help carers

CarerJust as public services, communities and workplaces have seen a shift in how families are supported to balance childcare responsibilities with busy working lives, we now need a similar shift to meet the care needs of a rapidly growing older population too.

Thanks to the Liberal Democrats the Care Act and Children and Families Act have both extended the rights of Carers of all ages, but there is still much more to be done to recognise the hidden treasure that are Carers.

Caring responsibilities can come at any time in a person’s life and can exact a heavy price in both health and wealth. About 6 in 10 of us will become carers at some point in our lives, and 45% of carers have given up work to care.  Carers UK estimate that informal care  saves the country £119 billion per year.

That is why I am delighted that Nick Clegg has today announced our plans for a Carer’s Bonus.

The bonus idea was developed by the Party’s Ageing Society Working Group as part of our Age Ready Britain policy paper.

The bonus would be paid annually to Carers to use as they see fit, for example as a contribution toward extra costs such as taking a break. To start with it would be set at £125, doubling to £250 no later than 2020.

This would put extra money in Carers’ hands to make their own decisions about how it can best support them.  The Carer’s Bonus marks out our commitment to promoting the wellbeing of carers and is the first of a number of proposals aimed at better supporting carers that we spell out in our policy paper Age Ready Britain.

 

Photo by Kai Hendry

* Paul Burstow is Liberal Democrat candidate for Sutton and Cheam and was the MP until the dissolution of Parliament on 30th March.

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13 Comments

  • Simon McGrath 3rd Jul '14 - 12:34pm

    Paul – how are carers being defined ? According to the Princess Royal Trust there are 7m carers:
    http://www.carers.org/key-facts-about-carers

  • “The bonus would be available to anyone who has been receiving Carer’s Allowance for at least a year”
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/liberaldemocrats/10942382/Cash-bonus-to-give-carers-a-break-Lib-Dems-promise.html

    Carer’s Allowance is paid to people who spend at least 35 hours a week as a carer. But you don’t get it if you receive various other benefits, including the state pension.

  • >Carer’s Allowance is paid to people who spend at least 35 hours a week as a carer. But you don’t get it if you receive various other benefits, including the state pension.

    It is unfortunate that many carers are retired and hence miss out on these benefits…

  • matt (Bristol) 3rd Jul '14 - 5:05pm

    As someone who has worked previously with disabled people and their carers, it is very rare that you meet someone receiving Carer’s Allowance because of the restrictions on applicants.

    Also, because of the diversity of different named benefits out there alreayd, there is a lot of other misconception around as it is, the primary one being a misunderstanding between CA and Attendance Allowance, which is by contrast paid direct to an older person receiving any form of care (who, to be eligible, primarily has to have had a longterm serious health condition for at least 6months to date; AA is so far NOT means-tested) – this has on occaison led to unscrupulous people telling an older person (maybe a relative) that they can help them get ‘carer allowance’ if they sign up to have them as their ‘carer’ and pocketing their AA – this is fraud.

    Announcing an additional bonus on top of Carer’s Allowance as a move to improve the lot of all carers is a bit like announcing a Marriage Bonus (please don’t) and then revealing that it will only be paid to CofE couples who got married in a cathedral.

    And yes, I am suspicious that means-tests are thrown at the young members of the nation more freely than they are at older people (not that there aren’t means-tests in social care and benefits for older people already) – and I can’t quite avoid a suspicion that the way older people and their carers (who are generally in their 50s or 60s themselves) tend to vote more than younger people may be linked to this.

  • I suggest the party had better be extremely clear about whatit means by carers.

    The party’s own press release quotes Carers UK as saying that almost half of carers are struggling financially, and that carers are saving the country £119bn a year. And Clegg quotes the statistic that 6 out of 10 will be carers at some point. That also comes from Care UK:
    http://www.libdems.org.uk/annual_bonus_for_1m_carers

    Paul Burstow quotes the same numbers above.

    The website of Carers UK estimates that there are 6.5 million carers in total, so one might guess from what Paul Burstow writes that the bonus would be going to all those people. In fact it would go to only about 15% of them. There needs to be some consistency here, or else the other 85% may have their opinion of Lib Dem promises damaged further.

  • A Social Liberal 3rd Jul '14 - 8:14pm

    Roland draws attention to the fact that carers who draw pensions are not considered carers by the system and so will not get the derisory £250. I would like to expand his thoughts by mentioning the unknown number of underage carers who similarly will get no benefit from this badly thought out policy.

    This of course, does nothing to address the argument of Clegg once again ignoring the process our party has for deciding policy, but that is for another post.

  • Tony Dawson 3rd Jul '14 - 8:34pm

    I am very much in favour of carers being recognised.

    What I am not in favour of is individual MPs (or even twos or threes) purporting to define Lib Dem policy before it has been widely discussed within the party.

  • “Roland draws attention to the fact that carers who draw pensions are not considered carers by the system and so will not get the derisory £250.”

    Actually its £125 until 2020.

  • Roland points out that pensioners don’t get carers allowance – as soon as a carer starts drawing their state pension the carer’s allowance ( just over £61 per week), is withdrawn pound for pound. For too many women their state pension is still less than the carers allowance, especially if they gave up work to become a carer , so they may still be entitled to a reduced amount. While someone in work – who is also a carer, is allowed to earn £100 per week before the carers’s allowance is reduced.
    Unless one is living with, or very close to, the person(s) needing care, looking after them can become an enormous financial burden because of travel costs, especially in those rural areas where there are no buses. This is particularly true of pensioners who are not entitled to carers allowance.
    This proposal is insulting to all carers but particularly the very young and those carers who are also pensioners, who get no financial help, and indicates a total lack of understanding of the financial problems faced by many carers.

  • Roland points out that pensioners don’t get carers allowance – as soon as a carer starts drawing their state pension the carer’s allowance ( just over £61 per week), is withdrawn pound for pound. For too many women their state pension is still less than the carers allowance, especially if they gave up work to become a carer , so they may still be entitled to a reduced amount. While someone in work – who is also a carer, is allowed to earn £100 per week before the carers’ allowance is reduced.
    Unless one is living with, or very close to, the person(s) needing care, looking after them can become an enormous financial burden because of travel costs, especially in those rural areas where there are no buses. This is particularly true of pensioners who are not entitled to carers allowance.
    This proposal is insulting to all carers but particularly the very young and those carers who are also pensioners, who get no financial help, and indicates a total lack of understanding of the financial problems faced by many carers.

  • Phil Shaddock 7th Jul '14 - 9:12am

    I don’t understand how a carers bonus of £125 per year is vastly better than a general increase of £2.50 pw. I expect the answer is in the policy paper Age Ready Britain policy paper. Where can I see a copy?

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