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Social Security Experience Panels: Carer's Allowance Supplement

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Summary

Participants felt that the introduction of the supplement was a positive step. However, some participants raised reservations about the level of impact that it would have. In particular their concerns related to whether the payment was enough, the fact that the supplement will not impact on the eligibility criteria, and some concerns about how the implementation would work with payments coming from two agencies, or a distrust in how the DWP may respond to the payment.

Participants were shown a draft of a letter about the introduction of the supplement that would go to recipients of the first payment. Many felt that the letter was "clear" and "easy to understand", but there were also a number of emerging queries or uncertainties. This related to questions about how and when payments would be made in the future, how the payment might impact on other benefits or entitlements, and how to contact the agency.

Participants were also asked about the wider support they receive in order to understand how Social Security Scotland can best communicate with carers. Responses were varied, with many saying that they do not receive formal support from any carers' organisations.

The research also highlighted a number of emerging themes relating to the operation of Carer's Allowance. In particular, concerns were raised about the eligibility criteria for Carer's Allowance in relation to the income threshold, requirement not to be in full time education, the number of people that you can list as caring for, and that due to the income threshold, for many people Carer's Allowance stops when they receive their pension.

Participants also suggested that the application for Carer's Allowance was often quite simple, but that it was a concern for some of them that their eligibility relies on qualifying benefits which some felt could be changed or stopped at short notice. This may mean that a change of circumstances could have a huge impact on household income.