Monday, 21 June 2010

Yvonne Fovargue MP calls for a fair deal for working carers

Yvonne Fovargue MP is calling for a fair deal for Makerfield’s army of working carers in next week’s emergency budget.

Yvonne has signed an Early Day Motion (EDM) tabled by Rosie Cooper, MP for West Lancashire that celebrates the £87 billion contribution made to the economy by the UK’s 6 million carers and calls on the government to help the 3 million carers who have to juggle their caring commitments with full or part-time work.

The motion also backs calls from the shopworkers union Usdaw for changes in the benefit system to allow working carers to earn more money before losing entitlement to Carers Allowance.

Yvonne said, “Both the Tories and Lib Dems promised to support carers in their election manifestos and I want them to make good on those promises by upholding the commitment of the National Carers Strategy that no carer should face financial hardship as a result of their caring role."

“The Government should also stand by the recommendation of the Work and Pensions Select Committee and ensure the DWP supports those adults who want or need to combine work with their caring commitments."

“Carers who look after someone for more than 35 hours a week are entitled to a Carers Allowance of £53.90 a week, but if the carer works and earns a penny over £97 a week, all that Carers Allowance is withdrawn."

“To withdraw all the allowance is simply not fair and this cliff-edge benefit is a massive disincentive to the many working carers who need or want to work more hours or find a better paid job.

“That’s why I’m also supporting Usdaw’s call for both an increase in Carers Allowance and an increase in the amount carers can earn before their Carers Allowance is withdrawn.”

John Hannett, Usdaw General Secretary is delighted that Yvonne is backing the union campaign. He added, “Usdaw is calling for Carers Allowance to be increased to £65.45 a week, the same rate as Job Seekers Allowance and for the £97 earnings limit to be increased to £150 a week."

“In addition we’d like to see a tapered decrease of the allowance meaning that all full-time carers earning up to £300 would be provided with some assistance."

“Thousands of Usdaw members combine their caring responsibilities with work yet many remain in severe financial hardship."

“Because of the existing rules, many Usdaw members who want to work more hours to make ends meet have to keep their hours deliberately low or risk losing carers allowance."

“Usdaw understands that there needs to be rules about who qualifies for carers allowance but when you do qualify then those who care should not be penalised for going out to work to provide a better life for themselves or their families.”

Early Day Motion 246 says:

That this House celebrates the valuable role performed by over six million carers in the UK, in the majority of cases without any financial recognition from the state, saving the country an estimated £87 billion per year; congratulates Carers UK for the valuable work they do in supporting carers and highlighting their needs during Carers Week; further congratulates the Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers (Usdaw) for their continued campaigning for a better deal for working carers; recognises that many carers need to work to make ends meet because Carer's Allowance only pays £53.90 a week for a minimum of 35 hours caring, urges the Government to match the commitment of the 2008 National Carers Strategy to ensure that carers are not forced into financial hardship by their caring role, and support the recommendation of the House of Commons Work & Pensions Committee 2008 report that ‘DWP should support adults who become carers during their working lives to combine work and care’; therefore calls on the Government to remove the disincentive to work represented by the cliff-edge earnings threshold of £97 per week that prevents many carers from working at all and stops those in working from fulfilling their full working potential.