29 August 2008
MPs have called for a shake-up of the 'outdated' system of benefits for the millions of carers who look after elderly or disabled relatives or friends.
Unpaid carers — most of whom are of working age — save the public purse an estimated £87bn a year. But many are struggling financially because their caring responsibilities force them to leave work or move into lower-paying jobs, a report from the Commons work and pensions select committee said on August 29.
Valuing and supporting carers said the system of benefits for carers was outdated. It called for two tiers of support, to help those unable to work full-time and to compensate for the extra costs of caring.
The government published a ten-year strategy for carers in June, but the MPs said: 'We are disappointed that benefits for carers… were only identified as a long-term priority from 2011 onwards.'
Stephen Burke, chief executive of charity Counsel and Care, said the report needed 'to be considered in tandem with a whole range of other issues such as information and advice, employment, benefits, and health care for carers themselves'.