29/08/2008

More Financial Help Needed For British Carers

Around six million people in Britain who are looking after sick and elderly relatives are not receiving adequate financial support, a new report has revealed.

The Work and Pensions Select Committee today published the report entitled 'Valuing and Supporting Carers'. It is based on the findings of an inquiry to examine the effectiveness of the DWP's existing approach to carers, in the light of the Government's ongoing review of the carer's strategy.

The report stated more help for the six million unpaid carers who look after friends and relatives - saving the taxpayer £87 billion - was of "critical importance".

Currently, Carer's Allowance is £50.55 per week, and Ministers have said they are working to give carers more "balance". The report recommends income replacement for those working part-time, or unable to work due to their commitments, as well as compensation for extra costs incurred from providing "intensive" caring roles.

The MPs said the were "disappointed" the Government had not directly addressed financial help for carers in its Carers Strategy, and the group have only been identified as a long-term priority from 2011.

"We believe that the current system of benefits for carers is outdated and we recommend the introduction of two distinctive 'tiers' of support for carers, offering income replacement support for carers unable to work, or working only part-time, and compensation for the additional costs of caring for all carers in intensive caring roles," the committee's report said.

"We believe that the Department for Work and Pensions should support adults who become carers during their working lives to combine work and care and enable those who wish to return to paid work when caring ends of changes to do so."

The committee's chairman, Labour MP Terry Rooney said: "Caring matters deeply to individuals, families and society in general.

"Sustaining the ability of carers to provide the care and support they give to others is of critical importance."

(JM)

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