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2016 National Retired Members Conference
15 June 2016

Conference is concerned that hundreds of thousands of carers over retirement age receive no Carers Allowance in recognition of their efforts in caring for their sick, frail or disabled family members, friends or neighbours. In a press release of May 2016, Age UK estimates that carers aged over 80 now number 417,000, most of them unpaid.

According to Carers UK there are 6.5 million in total in the UK, and 1.4 million of these provide 50 hours or more of unpaid care per week. Carers UK estimates that carers save the UK economy £116 billion per year.

Carers Allowance is currently paid at the miserly rate of £62.10p per week if the carer supplies at least 35 hours of care per week. But this is only paid if the carer earns less than £110 per week and it may affect other benefits. For carers in receipt of the State Retirement Pension the bar is set even higher. Claimants can only qualify for Carers Allowance if the State Retirement Pension they receive is less than £62.10p per week. Claimants can then have their State Retirement Pension “topped up” to that amount by Carers Premium or Carers Allowance.

The reason given for this is that the State Retirement Pension and Carers Allowance are “overlapping benefits”. However we all earn our pensions via our taxes and National Insurance contributions, not to mention all our years of contributing our skills and hard work to the wealth and social wellbeing of this country. The State Retirement Pension is earned, not “a benefit”. To have a family member, friend or neighbour who needs care is a chance misfortune, an extra responsibility. The fact that carers are prepared to devote themselves to looking after others is to be lauded, not cynically exploited.

Conference believes that if the job is being done it deserves to be recognised financially, not just with words, regardless of age or means.

Conference therefore instructs the National Retired Members Committee to liaise with National Executive Council, National Pensioners Committer, Scottish Pensioners Forum, Age UK, Carers UK and all appropriate organisations to campaign for the right of all carers in receipt of State Retirement Pension to receive Carers Allowance without detriment to their pension. Conference further instructs the National Retired Members Committee to report back to the National Retired Members Conference 2017.