Bring on 2013 – except if you’re on benefits
I hope everyone had a fabulous Christmas. 2012 was a year of many changes, both here at Carers Trust and in real life.
Policy-wise we had some highlights. Seeing a draft Care and Support Bill with carers not only mentioned, but forming a central plank of the whole Bill was a real boost. But all that is against a backdrop of increasing cuts which takes the wind out of the sails of any progress.
The cuts are coming from all sides, and I guess there’s no way of escaping. But it seems like carers and disabled people seem to be taking hit after hit after hit – way more than a fair share.
Food prices are up, gas and electricity prices up, transport and fuel prices up, and VAT at 20%. No-one escapes this. Few people in work are experiencing increased income in line with the cost of living, meaning most people are going through a real-terms cut, year after year.
Concerns over welfare benefits uprating bill
To top it all, the Government decide that people on benefits might as well live with this too. The welfare benefits uprating bill is in Parliament, and MPS voted in favour of taking it forward in the second reading debate last week.
We were told that disabled people would be protected – and Disability Living Allowance, Carers Allowance and people in the support group of Employment and Support Allowance will continue to have these benefits increased in line with inflation. However, those in the ESA work ready group will have their rises limited to 1%, and other non-disability specific benefits such as Housing Benefit will also be limited to 1%.
These are cuts. Despite the promises, disabled people and carers have only been partially protected. You can find out how your MP voted here (scroll down to the second vote, Division No. 129 at 7.13 pm).
If you don’t like how they voted, you should write to them and say so. (NB – check your MP’s name in the AYES and the NOES list on the above link. If it appears in both, it means they effectively cancelled out their own vote – this is the traditional way of abstaining.)
Not all carers exempt from benefits cap
The other issue which will come into play is the cap on benefits. Inexplicably, carers – even those acknowledged as having entitlement for Carers Allowance, spending 35 plus hours a week in a caring role – will not be exempt. This means that what they receive each week, if they are not classed as living in the same household as an exempt person, will be limited.
This will have a massive impact on carers, particularly those in areas where housing costs are high, such as London. The only option for those carers may be to stop caring so much and work instead, or to move to another area – perhaps meaning they are far away from the person they care for. This makes no sense to anyone.
For people struggling to make ends meet already, these week on week reductions in income will have an extremely painful impact. Last October, at Conservative party conference George Osborne made it clear more cuts were coming so this won’t be the last.
Carers Trust will of course, be supporting the Hardest Hit campaign trying to ensure carers’ voices are heard, but it’s going to be tough. Welcome to 2013 folks.
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About this blog
|I’m Moira Fraser, Director of Policy at Carers Trust.Together with our Network Partners, we provide support, information, advice and services for the millions of people caring at home for a family member or friend. I ensure that the issues affecting carers are taken to Government, and sometimes they listen to us and …read more|
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