Carer's Allowance

Oral Answers to Questions — Work and Pensions – in the House of Commons at 2:30 pm on 15th March 2010.

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Photo of Jim Cunningham Jim Cunningham Labour, Coventry South 2:30 pm, 15th March 2010

What plans she has to review the level of carer's allowance in 2010-11.

Photo of Jonathan R Shaw Jonathan R Shaw Minister of State (Disabled People), Regional Affairs, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Disabled People), Department for Work and Pensions

The level of carer's allowance is reviewed annually and uprated in April in line with the September retail prices index. In 2009 the index was negative, so to help carers during the early stages of economic recovery we are bringing forward a 1.5 per cent. increase.

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This 1.5% raise is a joke! Carers Allowance is the lowest benefit of its type. The Government Ministers seem to think that we (Yes I'm a carer) can survive on a...

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Photo of Jim Cunningham Jim Cunningham Labour, Coventry South

I thank my hon. Friend for that answer, but can he give us a time scale for that, and is he aware that many carers are still struggling to make ends meet while others do not really know what benefits are available to them? What is he doing to target those people?

Photo of Jonathan R Shaw Jonathan R Shaw Minister of State (Disabled People), Regional Affairs, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Disabled People), Department for Work and Pensions

One of the measures we are taking to support carers is the establishment of carers' support managers, who are based in every Jobcentre Plus, and whom I have met, alongside representatives of Carers UK, the Princess Royal Trust for Carers and Crossroads Care. They are making a real difference, bringing together the various carers groups in our communities to ensure that people know what they are entitled to, and assisting them if they wish to find work. That is why we have put aside some £38 million in funding to assist in paying for the care while such people undergo training.

Photo of Peter Soulsby Peter Soulsby Labour, Leicester South

I greatly welcome the Minister's response to that question, and his recognition that there is much more to do to promote the take-up of this benefit, but does he accept that the level of take-up is not yet acceptable? Many more people could be benefiting from the allowance if they knew about it, and the Government need to look further into providing innovative ways of promoting take-up.

Photo of Jonathan R Shaw Jonathan R Shaw Minister of State (Disabled People), Regional Affairs, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Disabled People), Department for Work and Pensions

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for that question. It is vital that we have improved infrastructure so that our care partnership managers can reach out to, and meet, all the different carers groups. I can certainly put my hon. Friend in contact with the care partnership manager in the Leicestershire area, so he can find out what is being done there to assist carers in getting the benefit entitlement and the advice and support that we very much want to provide to them, as mapped out in the carers strategy that we published a couple of years ago.