For several years now CarerWatch, along with other campaigners, have fought for Carers’ benefits to be improved. However, past and present governments, have continuously failed to address both the low level of the allowance, £55.55 per week, or tackle the restrictions which bar many carers from claiming.
We have repeatedly taken our concerns to Ministers, DWP, MPs, all of which have been ignored. We were outraged with the present Welfare Reform Bill/Act, as once again carers’ benefits were overlooked.
This was frustrating as the current Secretary of State for Works and Pensions, Mr Iain Duncan Smith, had previously recommended an increase in the allowance when with the Centre for Social Justice (CSJ), an independent think tank he set up.
In the report, Breakthrough Britain, it was stated –
“”Family carers are undervalued in our society and receive a disproportionately low level of financial support given the many hours of work that they do“”
Considering we are witnessing the biggest reform of welfare benefits in over 60 years,
WHY have family carers been failed again?
Why, on March 14th 2012, did Mr Paul Burstows answer a question from Mr Jim Cunningham and state:
The Cross Government’s Carers Strategy “Recognised, valued and supported: Next steps for the Carers’ Strategy”, recognises that carers should not face financial hardship and the Departments are working together to take forward various initiatives to support carers in their caring role, through welfare reform and in developing the White Paper on care and support. We are looking at putting the rights of carers on a firmer footing in social care so that they have similar rights to the people they care for.
The WRB received Royal Assent March 8th 2012 and there was NOTHING included that would alleviate the financial hardship being faced by many carers.
With a White paper due for care and support, can we be at all hopeful that the Dept of Health will succeed where other departments have failed. Time will tell.
A recent report from the Joint Committee on Human Rights urges the Government to conduct an impact assessment on the cumulative impact of the current reforms on disabled people. It considers that this is required by law.
This mirrors exactly what is asked for with Pat’s Petition – a pause to consider the impact of the ‘perfect storm’ of changes. Too many of these changes will impact on family carers and we urge everyone to sign Pats Petition, share with others.