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Carers Allowance recipients to be exempt from benefit cap

26 January 2016

Lord Freud announces government intention to exempt recipients of Carer’s Allowance from the benefit cap during yesterday’s Lords debate on the Welfare Reform and Work Bill

Disability Rights UK welcomes the Government’s announcement that claimants of carer’s allowance are to be exempted from the benefit cap. This is a significant victory for disabled people and those who support us.

The decision is informed by the High Court’s recent ruling that that the benefit cap unlawfully discriminated against disabled people and so their carers as well.

The judgment held that carers who were single, in receipt of carer’s allowance and looking after a member of their family could not be expected to take any of the steps the Government had suggested to avoid the cap.

However the Government's response goes one step further than complying with the Court’s judgment by exempting all carers on carer’s allowance from the benefit cap and is a significant victory for disabled people and their carers.

DWP Minister Lord Freud said:

“Amendment 24 seeks to remove carer’s allowance from the list of benefits that are included within the benefit cap. As written, the effect is that recipients of carer’s allowance with a benefit income above cap levels would still be included in the cap but their carer’s allowance payment would be disregarded from the cap. That is the way that this amendment works…..

We do not consider that the disregard which this amendment would create is the right approach. We want to go further; we will be exempting all recipients of carer’s allowance from the benefit cap, whether they are single or part of a couple. This approach fits within the wider government strategy to support and invest in carers. Many carers wish to enter paid employment and many have done so while sustaining the role. We recognise that in some cases, it is beneficial for both the cared-for person and the social care system if people are cared for at home. It continues to be the case that some paid employment, alongside caring, will be right for many carers. But our strategy to support carers through the Care Act and through wider investment strategies provides new, targeted opportunities for help and encouragement, where appropriate, to remain close to paid employment.

As I say, we will be exempting recipients of carer’s allowance from the benefit cap. This is of course complex and we will need to get it right…”

The Government will bring forward an amendment at Third Reading of the Bill.

This announcement follows the High Court decision Hurley and others v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions which held that the benefit cap was unlawful in discriminating against those entitled to Carers Allowance who provide care to relatives such as a parent or grandparent, or a disabled child aged 18 or over.