Pensioners in Scotland and across the UK make an enormous contribution to our care system. The contribution that carers make to our society is priceless. It’s only right that they are duly valued and properly supported.
The SNP Scottish Government have taken number of actions to support carers. The Scottish Government will use new social security powers coming to the Scottish Parliament to boost cares’ incomes. I’m proud to say that from next summer onwards, Carer’s Allowance will be increased to the same level as Jobseeker’s Allowance, with payments backdated to April 2018. Furthermore, from autumn 2019 a Young Carers Grant – worth £300 per year – will be introduced, part of a package of support that will be deliver over the course of the Scottish Parliament term. In addition, the new Carers Act, will enshrine the rights of carers in law for the first time, placing a duty on local councils to provide support for carers. The SNP Government have invested around £122 million in programmes to support carers which is more than ever before.
However, some 40% of people who are eligible for Carer’s Allowance do not receive it because they are also in receipt of another income replacement benefit such as State Pension, contribution-based Jobseeker’s Allowance or contribution-based Employment and Support Allowance. This is known as the ‘overlapping benefit rule’.
Nonetheless, carers on lower incomes with an ‘underlying entitlement’ to Carer’s Allowance may receive an additional amount in the form of a premium or addition. This is extra money included in the calculation of means tested benefits such as Income Support and Pension Credit. People receiving Universal Credit, who are also caring for 35 hours a week, may also qualify for extra money – a ‘carer element’. These additional payments currently remain reserved to the UK Government.
Carers remain a top priority for the SNP Scottish Government. In Westminster, we will continue to bring attention to carers and the enormous contribution they make to our society. SNP MP Gavin Newlands, highlighted this issue in a debate in Westminster Hall on 9th of June 2016 and called on the UK Government to match the increase in carer’s allowance in Scotland and to consider a young carer’s allowance, to ensure that carers both young and old right across these islands can benefit.