The Scottish Government will pay an extra £19.2 million to unpaid carers next month in a bid to support them through the Covid-19 crisis – acknowledging that they are “doing even more right now”.
The new legislation will see 83,000 people who care for someone else for 35 hours or more a week and who receive Carer’s Allowance get an extra £230.10 in June.
Shirley-Anne Somerville, Cabinet Secretary for Social Security and Older People, said the Carer’s Allowance Supplement was being introduced “to recognise the important contribution unpaid carers play in our society”.
She said: “They provide vital support to family, friends and neighbours. Our collective efforts to slow the spread of coronavirus will see many of these carers experiencing additional pressures, particularly financial, right now.
“The payment will benefit carers who are on low incomes and already have some of the most intense caring roles, providing at least 35 hours of unpaid care weekly to a disabled child or adult in receipt of higher level disability benefits.
“This additional payment would be an acknowledgement to carers that we know that they are doing even more right now, and we thank you.”
Unpaid carers are under extra pressure, providing more care and not getting breaks
The Carer’s Allowance is paid to people who care for people with disabilites or other health issues full-time with earnings of £128 or less per week (after tax, National Insurance and expenses). It can be claimed by people providing remote care during the Covid-19 emergency too.
The supplement is the only payment of its kind in the UK. In the rest of the UK Carer’s Allowance is the lowest-paid benefit at £67.25 a week, with campaigners calling for it to be increased by at least £8.85 to match Scotland.
The payment due next month, a total of £460.20 including the extra cash injection from the proposed supplement, will go to people who were receiving Carer’s Allowance in Scotland on April 13 earlier this year.
Overall carers will get an extra £690.30 on top of the standard Carer’s Allowance this year.
Helen Walker, chief executive of Carers UK said: “This is an important act of acknowledgement for Scotland’s unpaid carers – the majority of whom have been providing even more care for their older, disabled or seriously ill loved ones during the pandemic. Many unpaid carers in Scotland will appreciate being recognised and this extra money will help them meet some of the extra costs they are facing during the outbreak.
“Now, the UK Government needs to do its part to ensure the rest of the UK’s unpaid carers receiving Carer’s Allowance – and providing upwards of 35 hours of care a week – also receive a coronavirus supplement. This is imperative to show carers that the Government recognises the additional financial costs that they are facing at this time.
“Caring Behind Closed Doors, our research into carers’ experiences during lockdown, showed 81 per cent of unpaid carers had extra financial costs as a result of the crisis. At the same time, unpaid carers are under extra pressure, providing more care and not getting breaks.”