In the Full Council meeting of 22/9/21 Conservative councillors cruelly rejected Lib Dem calls to lobby the Government and local MPs to raise Carer’s Allowance by £1,000 a year, to help support unpaid carers in South Gloucestershire.
There are more than 2700 carers in South Gloucestershire, but many people who provide care for a loved one do not recognise themselves as a ‘carer’. Whilst the financial and emotional challenges faced by unpaid carers have been made far worse by the Coronavirus pandemic, full-time unpaid carers continue to rely on Carer’s Allowance at just £67.25 a week.
The motion submitted by Liberal Democrat Councillors included a call for the Leader of Council to write to the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, urging them to raise Carer’s Allowance by £20 a week immediately and copy in our local MPs asking for their support. The Conservatives voted to strike this out.
Cllr Ben Nutland, Shadow Cabinet Member for Adults, Health and Equality of Opportunity commented:
“Caring for people’s health doesn’t stop at the GP’s surgery door, there are about 6.5million volunteers in the UK who look after a family member or friend who is elderly or has a disability, or a mental or physical illness. Here in South Gloucestershire they have been at the forefront of the Coronavirus pandemic response and continue to do a selfless and remarkable job in very difficult circumstances.
“Despite this, the Government has overlooked carers and has failed to offer adequate support, and unpaid carers, in particular, have been left to face mounting financial and emotional pressures. I am disappointed the Conservatives refused to challenge the Government about this. Research shows that unpaid carers in the UK have saved the state £530 million every day of the pandemic. The Government has a duty to give them the support they deserve.”
Cllr Louise Harris, who is also an unpaid Carer, added:
“Many carers are facing extreme financial hardship. The Liberal Democrats will stand up for them and lead the way to a more caring society.”
The full text of the motion proposed by Ben Nutland:
Motion 2 of 2021/22 Liberal Democrat Motion on Carers Allowance
Proposer: Councillor Ben Nutland, Liberal Democrat Shadow Cabinet Member for Adults, Public Health and Equality of Opportunity
This Council notes that:
- Carers – paid and unpaid, young and old – do a remarkable and important job. They are an integral part of our community in South Gloucestershire. They deserve our support, but are far too often forgotten and ignored.
- Carers in South Gloucestershire and across the country face big challenges every single day; challenges that have been made even harder by the COVID-19 pandemic. Most are having to spend more time looking after loved ones during the pandemic; most haven’t been able to take a single break since it started; and most are simply exhausted.
- Situations provoking care interventions can happen with little warning. Often those giving care have to reduce their working hours or give up work to juggle competing demands.
- The pressures on young carers can negatively impact on their experiences and outcomes in education, having a lasting effect on their life chances.
- Many carers are unaware of their entitlement to financial support, a carers assessment or break, and the support services available.
Council further notes that:
- 2,570 unpaid carers in South Gloucestershire rely on Carer’s Allowance.
- At just £67.60 a week, Carer’s Allowance is the lowest benefit of its kind.
- In response to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Government increased the Universal Credit standard allowance and the Working Tax Credit basic element by £20 a week above the planned uprating, but did not increase Carer’s Allowance in the same way.
- Many unpaid carers are facing extreme financial hardship. A recent survey by Carers UK found that more than a third of those on Carer’s Allowance are struggling to make ends meet. Many have been struggling for months, often relying on foodbanks to feed themselves and the people they care for.
- The Carers UK survey found that “43 per cent of carers felt that a rise in Carer’s Allowance would help them, given the financial pressures they are facing.”
Council resolves to:
- Stand up for carers, do more to support them, and build a more caring society as we emerge from the Covid-19 pandemic.
- Review how carers in South Gloucestershire are made aware of existing support that is available and to bring back any recommendations to the Council.
- Promote Young Carers Action Day, in March, as widely as possible on an annual basis, particularly to young carers and their families.
Council calls on the Leader of the Council to write to the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, urging them to raise Carer’s Allowance by £20 a week immediately and copy in our local MPs, asking for their support.
Image credit: David Banes