HC Deb 16 June 2004 vol 422 cc1017-9W
Mr. Tynan

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the cost would be of increasing carers' allowance to the level of the full basic state pension; and what assessment he has made of the consequent effect upon payments of means-tested benefits. [178597]

Maria Eagle

The gross cost of increasing carer's allowance from its current rate of £44.35 per week to the level of the full basic state pension (£79.60 per week) would be around £770 million in 2004–05. After allowing for offsets in means-tested benefits the cost

Mr. Pond

The information requested is set out in the tables.

would be around £370 million. Some of those who would benefit would see their increased CA payment fully eroded by reduced income support.


1. Estimates use benefit rates for 2004–05 and are based on a 100 per cent. extract of CA claims on the CA computer system for May 2003, a 5 per cent. extract from the claims on the IS computer system in 2003 and a 1 per cent. extract of the housing benefit/council tax benefit claims of May 2001.

2. The estimates do not take account of any potential behavioural changes that may result from increasing the rate of CA.

Mr. Tynan

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what proportion of working age carers in(a) the UK and (b) Scotland are credited with Class 1 national insurance contributions in respect of their caring commitments. [178600]

Mr. Pond

The information is not available in the form requested. In 2003–04, a total of 520,000 working age carers in the UK who were entitled to carer's allowance, were also given NI credits for periods ranging from one week to a full year.

Separate figures are not available for Scotland.

Other carers entitled to CA may receive credits because they are in receipt of bend its such as incapacity benefit or jobseeker's allowance. Women who have elected to pay married women's reduced rate contributions would not receive credits.

Mr. Tynan

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what assessment he has made of the merits of payments for all carers. [178601]

Mr. Pond

The needs of carers are diverse and the support they need is not always financial. As well as having access to the full range of social security benefits and tax credits, depending on their individual circumstances, carers also have access to a wide range of support services available through local authorities and health authorities, which take account of local factors.

Carer's allowance provides a measure of income maintenance to those carers who are spending substantial amounts of time caring for a severely disabled person, and are over pension age or unable to undertake full-time work. The Government are satisfied that targeting help in this way represents the best use of resources.