A report published this week by the House of Commons’ Public Accounts Committee says that carers find it hard to access state benefits and employment support because of complex processes and poor communication from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).
Launching the report, “Supporting Carers to Care”, Committee Chairman, Edward Leigh MP, said: “The value of the service that these unpaid carers provide to society is not reflected in the quality of the DWP’s arrangements for providing them with financial and other support.”
Key concerns raised by the Public Accounts Committee included the following:
• The DWP does not know how many carers are eligible for Carer’s Allowance.
• A fifth of carers who receive benefits have difficulties with the application process.
• The interaction between carers’ benefits and those of the person they care for is complex and discourages carers from applying.
• Support for carers who wish to combine caring with paid work is not sufficiently tailored to their circumstances.
Responding to the report Imelda Redmond, Chief Executive of Carers UK, said: “This is the second time in twelve months that a senior Committee of MPs has criticised the DWP’s approach to carers. Last year the Work and Pensions Committee described carers’ benefits as ‘outdated’ and urged an overhaul of the system. They also recommended an increase of up to £60 per week in carers’ benefits, which is yet to happen. Now the Public Accounts Committee has found that those benefits aren’t delivered effectively and carers are facing a multitude of problems in accessing the support that is rightly theirs.
“The benefits system has to be overhauled for carers. They are saving the state a staggering £87 billion a year and feel frustrated that the benefits system does not meet their needs. Carer’s Allowance is not fit for purpose and this report gives extra weight to the calls to overhaul the whole system. The Government has said that by 2018 no carer should be in financial hardship because of their caring role, but carers cannot wait until then: the time for action is now.”
The Committee of Public Accounts report and press notice can be found at: http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm/cmpubacc.htm
For more information on Carers UK, and the story above, please visit: http://www.carerswales.org/Home