Health

Thousands of carers set to lose benefits

  • 13 February 2013
  • From the section Health
Elderly woman with her carer
Carers can apply for a weekly allowance of £58.45

Thousands of carers in England, Wales and Scotland are set to lose benefits when new disability-claim rules start.

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) says 5,000 carers currently eligible for a £58.45 a week allowance will no longer be when personal independence payments replace the disability living allowance this April.

It says the changes are necessary and 20,000 additional carers should gain.

Charity Carers UK says this is "cold comfort" to those who will miss out.

New system

More than a million people receive carer's allowance. And for about 270,000 of them, this entitlement is dependent on the eligibility for the disability living allowance (DLA) of someone of working age for whom they care.

When DLA is replaced by the personal independence payment (PIP), there will be new rules and assessments to judge who can claim assistance to help them lead an independent life.

If fewer disabled people can claim PIP than are currently receiving DLA, this would have a knock-on effect for their carers.

The DWP says about 76,000 disabled people with carers will be reassessed for PIP.

It believes 25,000 of these people will no longer be entitled to DLA as a result, and their carer will also lose their allowance.

At the same time, another 20,000 carers will be newly awarded an allowance as a result of the PIP reassessment - meaning a net total of 5,000 carers who will miss out.

But Carers UK says this estimate is too low. It says about 10,000 carers - 5,000 carers currently eligible under DLA and 5,000 "future" carers who would also have qualified under the DLA system - stand to lose.

Chief executive Helena Herklots said those families affected by these changes faced a double loss.

"The government is now cutting financial support for carers by £31m - meaning that thousands of families now face the devastating double blow of disability and carers' benefits.

"This comes on top of cuts to social care services, cuts to housing benefit support for carers who need a separate room to sleep in, forthcoming reductions in support with council tax and thousands of carers who will have their benefits capped - a perfect storm of cuts to families already struggling to care for loved ones

The DWP said that it was investing more than before in carer's allowance - about £2bn.

A spokesman said: "We've also protected the link between carer's allowance and PIP entitlements, which has been welcomed by charities.

"Furthermore, the universal credit will ensure that those carers on low incomes receive the support they need by allowing them to keep more of their own money as they move into work.

"It will also give carers more flexibility if they need carers breaks."

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