Guest blog by CarerWatch
According to Mr Clegg, some carers experience 'an unbearable burden'. As such, under the LibDem election promise, they will receive a 'reward' paid annually to allow them to have a break. This 'reward'? £125 a year paid to those who receive carers allowance only. He suggests that ' Some carers might use the money to hire a care assistant to help them out for a week'
How out of touch are the Lib Dems?
Mr Clegg, have you ever tried to employ a care assistant for £125 a week?
Mr Clegg, have you ever tried working 24/7 and only having one week a year off? (Many carers get no breaks at all)
Mr Clegg, are you aware that many carers are not entitled to Carers Allowance
Carers do not want you to 'show our thanks and ease the pressure the nation's carers face' by giving some of us a paltry £125 a year.
Carers Allowance is paid at a rate below that of all other income replacement benefits. Consequently any annual uprating has a minimal impact and does not reflect the rise in the cost of living, reducing carers spending power year on year and increasing the income gap between carers and the rest of society.
Carers in receipt of other income replacement benefits are excluded from claiming Carers Allowance due to the overlapping benefit rule.
Carers who have previously been entitled to Carers Allowance find that this is removed on reaching retirement age causing distress and anger, this can be after decades of caring for a sick or disabled relative.
The current £102 earnings limit at which Carers Allowance is withdrawn is a disincentive for carers who could combine work and caring to contemplate work or, for those in part-time employment, to increase their hours.
The withdrawal of Carers Allowance when a carer embarks on an educational course at college or university that entails more than 21 hours study per week acts as a barrier to carers wishing to engage in education and training in order to update their skills with a view to entering or re-entering the workplace. Many financially-assisted educational courses do not have Carers Allowance on their list of qualifying benefits for reduced fees, making engaging in education unaffordable.
Correction added, thanks to Charles47 ( The blog has a mistake: the 21 hour rule is notional. If the course is for (example) 10 hours only, but the college or university calls it a full time course – you lose your Carers Allowance. So for many carers, there’s no incentive to train.)
For many carers, caring is a full-time occupation. In order to qualify for Carers Allowance, either paid or underlying, a carer must spend a minimum of 35 hours caring per week, many carers care for substantially more than the minimum 35 hours. Although not perceived as such, caring is a full-time job and can involve meeting physical needs, psychological needs and social needs, supervision, prompting, dealing with health and care services, managing finances, medication, cleaning, shopping, virtually every aspect of daily living.
Carers have no regular hours of work, have no entitlement to breaks, days off, holidays or sick leave, they are not covered by health and safety legislation and frequently suffer injury as a consequence of caring. For the majority of full-time carers employment is not an option, for those they care for, being left with strangers is not an option.
The real term reductions in Treasury funding for local authorities has resulted in tightening eligibility criteria, the closure of day centres and increased care costs, reducing the number of people able to access or afford social care. Family carers are increasingly providing the care that would have been previously been provided by the State.
All governments, past and present, have demonstrably failed to meet the financial needs of carers who do not have the option of taking up employment.
CarerWatch members believe that family carers are not an optional extra to be added on as an after thought. ALL political parties need to amend their attitude towards family carers and make some speed in deciding how to adequately fund family carers.
To this end, we strongly advise Mr Clegg and his party to go back to the drawing board.
Carers do not need half baked promises/policies that will bring about so little change for so few carers.
Time will tell what manifesto promises Labour and Conservative parties bring forth. We remember well the hustings of 2010.
Carer issues were aired more than ever, and yet there has been NO real improvements.
Watch this space