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Social Security Experience Panels: Carer's Allowance Supplement

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Views on the introduction of Carer's Allowance Supplement

Participants felt that the introduction of the Carer's Allowance Supplement was a positive step overall.

"I would be very happy (to get the supplement). For people who were not aware of this, this would bring a smile to their face. It recognises the work that carers do."

However, during the discussion with participants about their experience of Carer's Allowance, and how Social Security Scotland can communicate the supplement, a number of emerging themes arose around participant's concerns about the limitations of the Carer's Allowance Supplement.

Payment Amount

A number of respondents felt that the payment amount for Carer's Allowance is too low.

"Carer's Allowance is insultingly low, and given I had to give up my career and full time work to become a full time carer to my wife, who has severe multiple sclerosis, means we are often in financial hardship."

"The money is very small and not enough to live off. I also get housing support. Monetary issues are bad because the costs of living are going up."

"You don't really get that much so therefore I live from hand to mouth each week."

Some also felt that the payment of the supplement would still not be enough. Reasons given for this view included that the payment was still not in line with living wage. Others also commented that there are additional costs associated with being a carer that would not be faced by someone on Job Seeker's Allowance. Some participants felt that the increased amount is something carers should always have been entitled to.

"The supplement should be more than the rate of Job Seeker's Allowance. Carer's are treated like slaves."

"We are full time carers, we are not jobseekers. I know the Scottish Government's hands are tied and money is tight, but what I feel we deserve is like any worker in the country, a living wage for what we are doing as carers. But any raise in Carer's Allowance would be welcome."

Many participants also relied on other forms of financial support. This included disability benefits, income support, housing benefits, and paid work.

Eligibility for Carer's Allowance

Participants felt there were issues around the eligibility criteria for Carer's Allowance, and that this would have a knock on impact for the introduction of the supplement, which will only be paid to those already in receipt of Carer's Allowance.

Concerns around the eligibility criteria are covered in detail below, with particular issues being raised in relation to the income threshold, limitations on full time study, not being able to list more than one person that you care for, and the fact that due to the income threshold, for many people Carer's Allowance stops when they receive their pension.

In particular there was a concern that those who have an underlying entitlement to Carer's Allowance, but who do not receive payments due to their other income, age or studying, would be further disadvantaged by the introduction of the supplement.

Concerns about the introduction of the supplement

Some participants were concerned about the approach to supplement being implemented. In particular there was a lack of trust in DWP among some participants, who were concerned that DWP would block the supplement being implemented or would deduct the payment from other benefits. It should be noted that the UK Government has agreed that the supplement will be disregarded when calculating other benefits. Some participants felt that payments coming from two separate Governments could cause confusion or mistakes to be made.