Carers Allowance (Older People)

– in the Scottish Parliament on 4th March 2020.

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Photo of Sarah Boyack Sarah Boyack Labour

8. To ask the Scottish Government what action it is taking in response to reports of an increase in the number of people who are entitled to carers allowance not claiming it. (S5O-04211)

Photo of Shirley-Anne Somerville Shirley-Anne Somerville Scottish National Party

We set out a range of actions to increase the number of people claiming all our benefits in our benefit take-up strategy, which was published in October last year. Last week, I announced funding of £600,000 to support work on take-up of Scottish social security benefits among hard-to-reach groups, single parents and people with particular barriers such as mental or physical disabilities.

That builds on our work to increase uptake of carers allowance and the young carers grant through, for example, regular promotion of the carers allowance supplement and material on the Young Scot website to encourage younger carers to claim the support to which they are entitled. We have also introduced a duty on local authorities to provide advice to carers on income maximisation, which covers carers allowance

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Photo of Sarah Boyack Sarah Boyack Labour

Work is being done, and that is welcome. However, will the cabinet secretary take note of the fact that the Government’s own statistics to last August show that overall numbers of people who have underlying entitlement are down, and that thousands fewer people have entitlement only? In response to the Oxfam report on the multibillion-pound effort that unpaid carers contribute to society, the First Minister recently said that she would like support for them to be increased and extended, financially and otherwise. Ahead of carers week 2020, will the cabinet secretary bring forward the planned consultation on wider changes to carers allowance, which was not due to begin until next year?

Photo of Shirley-Anne Somerville Shirley-Anne Somerville Scottish National Party

As Sarah Boyack correctly said, we are due to consult on carers allowance in 2021. That goes along with our framework and timeframe for social security benefits as we move forward on devolution of them. Currently, work is focused particularly on disability assistance. However, we continue to meet stakeholder organisations and carers directly to discuss with them what they would like as we move forward with devolution of carers allowance. That will, I am sure, be something to which we will give serious consideration.

The Deputy Presiding Officer:

I remind Ms Boyack and others that they should be in the chamber from the beginning of the portfolio question time in which they hope to ask a question. Do not come in in the middle of it.