Plans for a new benefit.
Views are being sought on plans to improve support for Scotland's community of unpaid carers through the introduction of a new benefit.
Under Scottish Government proposals, Scottish Carer's Assistance will replace Carer's Allowance, currently delivered by the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP), and be delivered by Social Security Scotland.
It will support over 80,000 people who provide 35 hours per week or more of care to those receiving certain disability benefits. An additional payment of more than 500 a year will be made to those who care for more than one person.
A consultation published yesterday outlines proposals aimed at improving the service that carers receive, including increased financial support and links to wider support in areas such as social care, employability, education and bereavement.
It also highlights how support could be expanded once those already in receipt of Carer's Allowance have been transferred from DWP to Social Security Scotland.
Social Security Minister Ben Macpherson yesterday said:
Caring for a loved one can be a positive and life changing experience but also presents many challenges. We will deliver Scottish Carer's Assistance in a compassionate and considerate way, linking carers to wider services.
We will also create a weekly payment of 10 for those caring for more than one person, and if the person they care for is challenging a change to their disability benefits we will make support available.
This is in addition to continuing support for young carers and maintaining the extra support from our Carer's Allowance Supplement, providing eligible carers with an extra 460 a year.
When we have introduced our new benefit, and safely and securely transferred people from Carer's Allowance to Scottish Carer's Assistance, we intend to make further improvements. We will look for opportunities to make these changes sooner if we can do so without putting carers' existing benefits at risk.
These further changes would help remove barriers to education, allow carers to add together hours spent caring for more than one person to qualify for support, extend support after the loss of a cared for person or when a cared for person is in hospital, and enable carers to earn more from paid work.
We want to hear people's views on these plans, other potential changes beyond these, and thoughts on how improvements would help address inequality and poverty.
Fiona Collie, Policy & Public Affairs Manager at Carers Scotland, yesterday said:
Carers Scotland is very pleased to welcome the publication of this consultation on proposals for Scottish Carer's Assistance and a new Carer Additional Person Payment to support unpaid carers.
This opportunity to improve the main financial support for carers in Scotland is an important one and carers have long discussed ways in which it can be changed to recognise their caring and better meet their needs.
I would encourage as many carers as possible to respond and bring their views and experiences to the consultation, either individually or through events and activities that are planned.
The Scottish Carer's Assistance consultation is open for responses until 23 May 2022.
Launching Scottish Carer's Assistance will be the Scottish Government's highest priority following the delivery of Adult Disability Payment in August this year, the extension of Scottish Child Payment for 6 to 16 year olds by the end of the year (subject to the Department for Work and Pensions providing the necessary data) and the first low income winter heating benefit in winter 2022/23. Timings for delivery of Scottish Carer's Assistance will be confirmed as soon as possible following agreement with the Department for Work and Pensions, as part of the joint programme of work to devolve social security.
It is estimated by Carers UK that the value of the support provided by unpaid carers in Scotland is 10.8 billion each year, with 69 per cent of current Carer's Allowance recipients women. In August 2021 there were around 81,400 carers in Scotland in receipt of Carer's Allowance.
The Scottish Government has provided 188 million in Carer's Allowance Supplement since its launch in September 2018, paying carers 231.40 in 2021-22 twice a year, and 1.4 million since October 2019 through its Young Carer Grant, paying carers 308.15 once a year in 2021-22, which helps carers aged 16-18.
The DWP's Carer's Allowance benefit provides 67.60 per week to unpaid carers who provide 35 hours per week or more of care to people receiving certain disability benefits, and who earn less than 128 weekly. Recipients in Scotland already get an extra 460 a year compared to carers south of the border because of the Carer's Allowance Supplement.