Purnell rejects Jobseeker’s Allowance plan for carers

Secretary of State for Work and Pensions James Purnell has withdrawn controversial plans to move carers claiming Income Support onto a modified version of Jobseeker’s Allowance.

Purnell’s notion was initially proposed in a Green Paper entitled “No one written off” but in a White Paper published this week the Government acknowledged a wealth of concerned feedback from a variety of carers’ organisations and abandoned the policy.

The White Paper, entitled “Raising expectations and increasing support: reforming welfare for the future” stated, in a section entitled “Carers and a simplified system”, that: “In the Green Paper we asked for views on whether moving some carers onto Jobseeker’s Allowance, with no change in the conditionality placed upon them, would be suitable.

“Many carers and their representative organisations were very clear that Jobseeker’s Allowance was not an appropriate benefit for carers.

“Respondents explained that carers would not be available for work because of their caring responsibilities – which, although unpaid, were at least as much as those experienced by people in full-time work.

“In his review of the White Paper, Professor Paul Gregg said that people entitled to carers’ benefits should not be expected to engage in back to work activity, unless they volunteered to do so.

“We accept that recommendation.”

Some carers’ organisations had described Purnell’s abandoned proposal as “insulting”. However, the White Paper acknowledged the “complexities and obstacles” carers encountered in both the current system and economic climate.

The document also reiterated that the support carers provide within families and communities is “absolutely crucial” and pledged that: “The needs of carers will be central to our consideration of the future reform of the benefits system.”

It stated that the Government “will ensure that proposals for a future system of support make appropriate provision for carers and fit well with the outcome of the Department of Health review of the care and support system.”

To read the White Paper: “Raising expectations and increasing support: reforming welfare for the future” please visit this address: http://www.dwp.gov.uk/welfarereform/raisingexpectations/fullversion.pdf