Edinburgh East MP Sheila Gilmore this week joined forces with Edinburgh based carers charity VOCAL to slam the Government over benefit cuts and the uncertainty this is causing for hard working carers.
Speaking during Carers Week, which runs from 18 to 24 June, Sheila Gilmore and VOCAL Chief Executive Sebastian Fischer criticised the Government’s plans to scrap Disability Living Allowance and replace it with Personal Independence Payment from 2013 and the uncertainty this is causing for carers.
Work and Pensions Select Committee member Sheila Gilmore said:
Carers do fantastic work in homes across the country.
However over the last year the position of carers has remained very difficult due to the uncertainty over the Government’s decision to scrap Disability Living Allowance and replace it with Personal Independence Payment from 2013.
Currently those caring full time for anyone in receipt of the middle or higher rate care component of DLA may be able to claim Carers Allowance (although this is a complex benefit and people should always seek proper advice). It is positive that these arrangements will continue under PIP. However George Osborne has made clear that the replacement of DLA with PIP will also involve a cut in the overall budget of 20 per cent, leaving many worried that if those they care for are simply refused PIP, they will lose Carers Allowance as a result.
The Government should always ensure that carers are given sufficient support. This isn’t just the right thing to do in and of itself, but if carers were to choose not to do the work they do, the financial cost to the state would be enormous.
Sebastian Fischer, Chief Executive of VOCAL (Voice of Carers Across Lothian) said:
Money matters when you are a carer, and when times are hard, carers are often hit hardest – forced to reduce or give up work, struggling to pay bills, and often cutting back on food and heating in order to make ends meet. Uncertainty over benefits adds to the increasing pressures and stress carers are under, with many sacrificing their own health and finances to continue caring. That is simply not acceptable for people who are Scotland’s largest unpaid workforce
- Sheila Gilmore wrote an extended piece for a recent VOCAL Newsletter on this same issue.
- Sheila Gilmore has posted a message of support on the Carers Week website.