UK Politics

Lib Dems: More carers to receive allowance

Woman caring for an elderly man Image copyright Science Photo Library
Image caption Carer's allowance is currently just over £61 a week

An increase in the number of people eligible to receive carer's allowance is to be announced by the Liberal Democrats, the BBC understands.

But leaked emails suggest the party's hopes of raising it further were questioned by Conservative Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith.

The payment, worth just over £61 a week, is only available to people earning under £102 a week after tax.

The Lib Dems are expected to say this limit will rise to £110 a week.

The party, which is meeting in Glasgow for its final autumn conference before the general election, was hoping to increase the threshold to £150 a week.

'Unsung heroes'

Alternatively it wanted to taper the payments, to allow someone earning over the income limit to receive some of the benefit.

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg's office asked the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to cost the options, suggesting possible savings to pay for the increase.

Emails seen by the BBC suggest Mr Duncan Smith strongly opposed the taper option and was not keen on raising the income limit.

He also did not want the DWP to pay for it, the emails suggest. The Lib Dems are now set to announce the limit will rise to £110 per week, with no tapering effect. A source close to Mr Duncan Smith said he was not opposed to the principle of an increase but said his coalition partners did not know how it could be funded.

Carer's allowance is a payment for people looking after someone with "substantial caring needs". As well as earning under the threshold, to be eligible a carer must be aged at least 16 and spend at least 35 hours a week caring for that person.

Earlier this year the Lib Dems said they would make a manifesto commitment to give one million carers an annual £250 bonus. Announcing that proposal, Mr Clegg said carers were "Britain's unsung heroes".

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