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Carer's Allowance

Volume 557: debated on Monday 28 January 2013

13. What estimate she has made of the number of unpaid carers who will lose carer’s allowance as a result of the benefit cap. (139396)

No one loses carer’s allowance as a result of the benefit cap for, as the hon. Lady may know, the cap is applied to overall household income.

What advice would the Minister give to the 5,000 carers who, as the Government’s impact assessment states, will lose an average of £105 a week through the operation of the benefit cap? Is she suggesting that they give up caring, look for work and ask social services to find a care placement for the person they care for? Why have the Government not thought of exempting carers, who do a wonderful job, from the benefit cap in recognition of their unpaid caring work?

I would not seek to tell anybody what they should do. We seek to work closely with people to enable and support them as best we can. We are doing that by trebling the discretionary payment to help people into work, because if they are on working tax credits, they will be exempt from the benefit cap.

I can tell the House that

“carers caring for an adult disabled child or other adult relative could see their benefits capped, because the DLA of the people they care for is not considered to be in the same benefit package or ‘household’ as the carers’–even if they are living together.”

This is a direct quote from Carers UK. Does the Minister agree with Carers UK that it is confusing, complicated and simply unfair to protect some carers and not others?

I remind the hon. Gentleman that the definition of “household” has been in place for some time, so what has happened has always been in place. As the Secretary of State said, there are many exemptions from the cap. Working with the discretionary payment, we can work together to get this right.