HC Deb 19 December 2003 vol 416 c155W
Mr. Jim Cunningham

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what plans he has to reward people for caring for older relatives. [145109]

Dawn Primarolo

This Government formally recognises the contribution of carers through the National Carers' Strategy ("Caring for Carers") published in 1999. In acknowledgement of their valuable role the Government have instigated a number of measures to ensure financial support for carers, in particular at helping older and poorer carers, those on low income, and those carers who wish to combine caring with employment, includingthe upper age limit to claiming Carer"s Allowance was abolished, allowing carers aged 65 and above access to the benefit for the first time; carers may also qualify for extra help within income related benefits. The amount has increased from £14.15 in March 2001 to £25.10 in April 2003, and helps over 250,000 carers; and the earnings limit has been increased substantially and is currently £77 a week after allowable expenses.

Carers can now claim Carer"s Allowance online using the DWP easy step-by-step electronic claim form.

The Government recently introduced the Pension Credit, which provides a guaranteed minimum income for all people aged 60 and over. Under the Pension Credit additional amounts are included for carers. Those entitled to Carer's Allowance or treated as satisfying the qualifying conditions for the award may benefit from the additional amount.

People receiving Carer"s Allowance are credited with National Insurance contributions each week, which protect their future entitlement to benefits such as State Pension and Incapacity Benefit. They also get extra help through the Government's State Second Pension.