All Party Parliamentary Group for Carers – draft minutes

All Party Parliamentary Group for Carers

Co-Chairs: Baroness Jill Pitkeathley and

Sir Tony Baldry MP

Draft Minutes: Tuesday 15th January 2013

Present

Baroness Jill Pitkeathley (Chair), Barbara Keeley MP, Baroness Wheeler, Baroness Howe, Baroness Lister, Dr Eilidh Whiteford MP and Dr Hywel Francis MP.

In attendance

Emily Holzhausen, Carers UK; Steve McIntosh, Carers UK; Chloe Wright, Carers UK, Emma Smale, Carers Trust; Michael Shann, Carers UK; Philippa Russell, Standing Commission on Carers; Professor David Croisdale-Appleby; John Bangs, Surrey County Council; Kirsty Slack, Carers Trust; Scott Sinclair, Marie Curie Cancer Care; Claire O’Neill, Marie Curie Cancer Care; Lauren Bowman, Adfam.

Apologies

Apologies received: Sir Tony Baldry MP, Hywel Williams MP, Russell Brown MP and Robert Walter MP

Minutes of the last meeting

Agreed.

Policy updates

Baroness Jill Pitkeathley introduced the meeting’s speakers and briefly outlined the changes coming in as a result of recent legislation on the NHS and Social Security and the draft Care and Support Bill which could have a considerable impact on carers. Baroness Pitkeathley noted that both she and Barbara Keeley MP are serving on the Scrutiny Committee for the draft Bill.

Emily Holzhausen, Director of Policy and Public Affairs at Carers UK updated the group on the draft Bill and outlined areas of the draft Bill which are seen as positive. She paid tribute to Members on all sides of the House that had successfully brought in the private members legislation on carers, upon which much of the new draft Bill is based.

However, she also highlighted several areas of concern and areas for improvement in the draft Bill

* Charging – lack of clarity on the division between charging for carers and disabled people’s services.

* Equal rights for parent carers and young carers to assessments

* Responsibility for supporting carers during NHS Continuing Care treatment

* The introduction of a cap on care costs and a raising of the means-test threshold for care.

APPG members discussed the following priorities for carers in the draft Bill:

* Improvements in the integration of rights for young carers in the draft bill and coordination with the draft Children and Families Bill

* Identification of carers and the merits of the duties in place in Scotland and Wales. The need for GPs and other health professionals including midwives to identify and signpost support for carers.

Observers from local government and the Standing Commission of Carers discussed work underway to engage with the draft Bill Committee.

Steve McIntosh, Policy and Public Affairs Manager at Carers UK, updated the group on the implementation of the Welfare Reform Act.

Steve highlighted a number of successes achieved by APPG Members and colleagues including:

* Exemption for carers in the changes to Tax Credits.

* Rise in carers and disabled person’s benefits and elements of other benefits in line with inflation.

* Assurance that the link between PIP and Carers Allowance will remain.

However, Steve highlighted several areas of continuing concern for carers and their families;

* ‘Bedroom tax’ – changes to the ‘size criteria’ in Housing Benefit mean that families seen to be under-occupying will face reductions in Housing Benefit. Carers of partners, for example, who have a separate bedroom because their partners have disturbed sleep would be considered to be under-occupying and have their Housing Benefit reduced (by 14% for an extra bedroom or 25% for two or more). There are exceptions for people who need an ‘overnight carer’ but this is only someone who is non-resident. Families have started to receive letters about the increase contribution they will need to make to their rent and this is causing huge anxiety for families.

* Localisation of Council Tax Benefit – Government is scrapping Council Tax Benefit and giving the funding (reduced by 10%) to councils to organise their own local systems of Council Tax reductions for local people. Government has instructed councils they must protect pensioners, so the working-age population will bear a greater proportion of the cut. Councils will have to decide amongst working age people including carers, disabled or unemployed people, as to which groups will begin to pay hundreds of pounds more in Council Tax Bills from April.

* The household benefit cap is starting in pilot areas in April and nationally later in the year the Government is capping household benefits at £350 a week for a single person and £500 for couples and single parents. Exemptions from the cap include someone within the ‘household’ receiving Disability Living Allowance. But benefits ‘households’ relate to the family benefit unit so only include children under 18 and partners; other adult relatives – even if they live in the same home – are seen as separate benefit ‘households’ (units).

This means that carers of disabled partners or children under 18 will be protected from the cap, but carers of all other adult disabled relatives, including disabled children over 18, risk having their benefits capped. Impact assessments suggest 5,000 carers across the UK will face reductions of £105 a week. APPG Members have tabled several amendments to the Bill arguing that a rationale of improving work incentives and withdrawing support from people ‘not contributing’ to society did not apply in any way to carers. However Government did not accept these amendments.

* Personal Independence Payment: cross-party concerns expressed by APPG members and others in the Commons and the Lords, resulted in the bringing forward of the Government’s decision on where the ‘gateway’ to Carer’s Allowance would sit in Personal Independence Payment, when it replaces Disability Living Allowance. In December, Lord Freud confirmed that both levels of PIP would act as a gateway to Carer’s Allowance – which largely maintains existing provisions.

APPG members have been calling for a carer impact assessment since June 2011. A PIP impact assessment published in May 2012 stated that Government did not anticipate any impact on the Carer’s Allowance caseload but further impact assessment published in December 2012 simply stated that impact assessment on passported benefits including Carer’s Allowance was ongoing. Implementation begins in less than three months and Government has also not yet established in legislation the link between Carer’s Allowance and Personal Independence Payment.

Carers UK are producing resources on the changes to help keep carers informed.

APPG members discussed these changes and noted further concerns about the; changes to the Motability criteria in the PIP regulations; the need to monitor the impact of Council Tax Benefit changes; the impact of ESA changes on carers; and the need to get more coverage in the media of the impact of the changes.

Members also noted the Joint Committee on Human Rights will be raising its concerns about the speed of reforms and the impact on levels of disability hate crime.

Members agreed to press the Government again on the need for an impact assessment and progress on putting the link in legislation.

ACTION: The APPG asked Carers UK to draft a letter to the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions copied to the Disability Minister:

* Urging the Government to publish as soon as possible, an impact assessment of the impact of the introduction of PIP on the number of carers eligible for Cares Allowance. Parliamentarians have not yet had the opportunity to scrutinise the effect of PIP on carers and the policy is due to be implemented in three months.

* Urging the Government to expedite measures to place the details of the Carer’s Allowance gateway through Personal Independence Payment on the face of the Bill.

ACTION COMPLETED

Emma Smale, Senior Policy and Parliamentary Officer at CarersTrust, updated the meeting on the impact of the implantation of the Health and Social Care Act and other changes in the NHS

Recent research of PCT allocation of Carers’ respite breaks showed a lack of transparency from PCTs on how they are supporting carers and in many cases a failure to meet the requirements of the Outcomes Framework. The transition to Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) is a further cause for concern as the NHS Mandate has a more light touch approach on carers than the Outcomes Framework.

Carers Trust have undertaken work looking at the shadow Health & Wellbeing Boards (HWBs) and have found that HWBs need clear mechanisms to engage carers groups and other groups

The roll out of Healthwatch is not happening at as fast a rate as the other reforms meaning that carers’ groups are not easily able to engage in the new structures.

The work of CCGs on carers is a mixed picture with some CCGs continuing previous work on carers’ strategies while others are undergoing a bigger change in personnel and there is a lack public engagement experience. The more localised structure means that carer groups need to spend more time engaging with more different groups and people.

Michael Shann, Carers Ambassadors Programme Manager, Carers UK

Outlined the GP identification of carers project funded by the Department of Health and being carried out by Carers UK, Carers Trust and the Royal College of GPs.

* GP liaison workers have been recruited to identify and share good practice

* GP carers champions have been identified and GP training resources are being developed

* 25 Volunteer carer ambassadors have been recruited who are working as catalysts for change in their local areas.

Members discussed the importance of carers, many of whom take a long time to identify available support, being made aware of and receiving the support they are entitled to as carers.

The important relationship between carers and the care workforce was raised and noted by the members.

Members also noted the publication of new research from Carers UK into ‘sandwich caring’ – the experience of carers providing care to an older or disabled loved one at the same time as bringing up children. Full report available at http://www.carersuk.org/professionals/resources/research-library/item/2853-sandwich-caring

Any Other Business:

The Chair informed the Group that Caroline Waters OBE, the current Chair of Employers for Carers and a champion for carers’ issues has been appointed Deputy Chair of the Equality and Human Rights Commission.

Date of next meetings

* The next meeting of the APPG on Carers will be on Tuesday 12th March 4pm-5pm.

The next two meetings of the APPG will be at 4pm on the:
16th April and the 4th of June
******

 

Draft Agenda: Tuesday 12th March 2013

 

16:00 – 17:00

Committee Room 17

 

 

1. Welcome and apologies

 

2. Minutes of last meeting

 

3. Updates

 

Update on the Joint Committee on the draft Care and Support Bill

Baroness Pitkeathley

 

Update on Government changes to care funding

Emily Holzhausen, Director of Policy, Carers UK

 

Update on Impact of welfare changes on carers

Steve McIntosh, Policy & Policy Affairs Manager, Carers

 

Update on Children and Families Bill – Impact on parent carers

Una Summerson, Head of Policy and Public Affairs, Contact a Family

 

4. Questions and contributions from Parliamentarians

 

5. Questions and contributions from observers

 

6. Any other business

 

7. Date of next meeting

 

8. Close

 

 

 

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