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Tuesday, 31 July 2018

Government accused of 'barely paying lip service' to needs of millions of carers

Written by Shaun Connolly

MPs have hit out at the Government for "barely paying lip service" to the needs of millions of carers after ministers rejected calls for stronger support to help them stay in employment.

Commons Work and Pensions Committee chairman Frank Field accused the Government of giving a "non-response" to reforms recommended by MPs.

The Government rejected the committee's call for a taper for Carers' Allowance (CA), a link between the earnings threshold and national living wage, and a signposting system to enable people to seek further employment support.

Mr Field (pictured) said: "The Government has scored a first: one could be forgiven for thinking it was replying to a totally different report, rather than the well-researched and unanimously agreed recommendations published by the select committee on support for carers.

"There is barely any contact between the evidence and recommendations we published, and the Government's non-response.

"It has barely paid lip service to an issue that is central to the lives of millions of people.

"I am sure it can do better for this country's heroic and undervalued carers as well as their families.

"So we have taken the unusual step of inviting Government to go away and try again."

Mr Field has written to Minister of State for Disabled People Sarah Newton expressing his concern at the situation.

MS Society director of external affairs Genevieve Edwards said: "It's disappointing to see such a lacklustre response from the Government, especially after its recent Carers Action Plan fell so far short.

"The Government must commit to paid leave and increased financial assistance for carers."

The Government rejected calls for a taper for CA saying it would effectively reduce the benefit for some people, and be a disincentive for some on lowest incomes, while "significantly complicating" the system.

Ministers said the CA earnings limit had been regularly increased since 2010 and is "generally working well for for many claimants".

Copyright (c) Press Association Ltd. 2018, All Rights Reserved. Picture (c) Anthony Devlin / PA Wire.