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2012 National Retired Members Conference
31 May 2012

Conference may be aware that many family members and friends unselfishly act as “at home carers” to provide for the needs of their aged and infirm relatives and friends. This enables those who are being cared for to live, with support, leading an independent life within their own homes in a safe and secure environment.

In return carers received a payment of £55.55p (Carer’s Allowance) per week from the DWP to provide a minimum of 35 hours care per week for the person who they are looking after. Many carers provide much, much more than the stipulated minimum 35 hours per week and this dedication to the care of our elderly and infirm also saves both the government and the NHS in excess of £30,000,000 a year.

It is disturbing to find out that a dedicated carer on attaining their State Pension age then loses the right to receive the carer’s allowance because the DWP states “you cannot receive two benefits” at the same time. This is because the DWP wrongly rate the State Pension as a “benefit”, despite the fact that many people have paid for their pension with contributions from their hard earned salaries, maintained throughout their working lives.

It will be generally felt that this withdrawal action is a cost saving double standard attack, again on some of the most vulnerable in our society. Most carers themselves are either middle aged or approaching state pension age and are unaware of this loss but the question is “Does the carer technically at that point of severance, stop providing the much needed care for those people they provide this dedicated service for”. No! They just soldier on and continue to provide this much needed care, without the payment of the allowance.

This unselfish attitude saves the government and the NHS even more money because of the carer’s defiance of this penny pinching attitude. It must be noted and fully appreciated that independent and private care services provided through other agencies are very expensive and also the time and travel which may be expended by the NHS District Nursing Service are also very costly, an average of £350 per week. This is a lot more than the £55.55 per week allowance which is given to the carer.

Searches have failed to provide any official legislation as to the specific reason why this allowance is withdrawn from carers on their attaining pension age, only the fact that it is withdrawn but the care provided still maintains a need to be undertaken.

Therefore, conference requests that the UNISON National Retired Members’ Committee urgently seek the support of the National Executive to make serious and positive representations to ensure that this lost allowance is reinstated and restored, as soon as possible, to the carers who will continue to dedicate their time and efforts to the benefit and welfare of our infirm and aged senior citizens.