Carer Watch have received the following answers to questions we asked of these groups.
Sorry for the delay in getting back to you with the answers to the questions. These are the answers from both charities and do come back to us with any questions.
1. Do you believe CA should be kept seperate from the main benefit system?
We believe that carers’ benefits should be raised, that more carers should be eligible for benefits and that more effort should be made to increase uptake of carers’ benefits. We also think that more should be done to help carers who wish to find and maintain work alongside smaller, more manageable caring roles and we would like to see more flexibility in the benefits system so that carers were not penalised when they take up part time work. When any proposals are made to change the benefit system that might affect carers, we consult with our networks of Carers’ Centres and Crossroads Care schemes to gain the opinions of carers and base our response on that. We have not canvassed opinion on the issue of whether CA should remain separate, but we know that any changes that risk lowering rather than raising carers’ benefits would be very unpopular with the hundreds of thousands of carers to whom we offer support.
2. What are your thoughts about the proposal that was deferred, of moving carers to a modified version of JSA?
We campaigned against that proposal which was part of the Department of Work & Pensions Green Paper July 08 – ‘No one written off’. We put our objections to the then Secretary of State James Purnell MP at a meeting with him just a few days before he announced that the proposals would be dropped from the White Paper published December 2008.
3. The govt has mentioned in the Green paper for Social Care that ‘some’ disability benefits ‘may’ move to local authorities to help fund care, Do you see this as a step forward or a negative move for those needing care, if such a proposal became a reality.
We have not finished our consultation with carers and our Networks on the Green Paper yet. We know that some Carers’ Centres and Crossroads Care schemes are still holding meetings with local carers. However, many carers have made their objections to these proposals known and we would include this in our official response to Government.
We do think that Attendance Allowance, for instance, offers the type of freedom and control that the Government is trying to encourage through personal budgets and we are concerned that the Attendance Allowance budget would not be moved to provide other kinds of early intervention and preventative support for those who do not meet high eligibility thresholds, but might instead disappear into councils’ budgets. We are also concerned that social care packages are lower if there is a carer, those pepole with carers would not receive an increase in social care support equivalent to what they had lost in AA value.
4. Do you believe that the option of funding social care in the future through General taxation should have been left on the table to ensure a true debate took place?.
Yes. The social care funding ‘gap’ is a fraction of the money spent on other policy areas, including the NHS. We recognise that in consultations the public have been keen on the idea of fully funded social care but reluctant to see taxes raised, but we would have preferred this option to have been fully part of the debate.
Joint Policy & Parliamentary Officer
The Princess Royal Trust for Carers and Crossroads Care