As the Government prepares to respond to a High Court ruling that the benefit cap unfairly discriminates against carers, Carers UK is calling for all carers to be exempt from the cap.
The call comes almost two months after the ruling was passed down and as the House of Lords is about to debate an amendment to the Welfare Reform and Work Bill1, which would exempt those on Carer’s Allowance from the cap.
Carers UK warns that delays or a failure to comply with the ruling will see people who care for a disabled, seriously-ill or older loved one unjustly facing greater financial hardship at the hands of the policy.
1,400 carers are currently subject to the benefit cap2. However, when the benefit cap is lowered in April 2016, more carers will be affected3.
Following a judicial review challenge, Justice Collins ruled that that the benefit cap unlawfully discriminates against the disabled claimants and their carers4. The DWP did not contest the ruling but has not issued any new guidance to implement the ruling, leaving families in limbo.
Heléna Herklots, Chief Executive of Carers UK, supplied evidence to the High Court in support of the challenge. Ms Herklots said:
“Two months have passed since the High Court ruled that the benefit cap unlawfully discriminates against disabled people and their carers. Whilst the Government considers its position on the ruling, carers continue to be unfairlypenalised by this policy.
“The benefit cap places a further strain on the incomes of carers, many of whom are already facing serious financial hardship and struggling to make to ends meet as a result of their caring role. People who are providing full-time care to a loved one are finding it near-on impossible to cover the extra costs of the benefit cap.
“Carers contribute so much to society, indeed the value of their support is worth £132 billion to the UK economy every year. Subjecting those who provide unpaid care to the benefit cap is unfair and inconsistent with the Government’s own aim for the policy. The DWP must act now to enforce the High Court’s decision and amend legislation to ensure carers are no longer penalised by this unfair policy.”
Pressure on the DWP to exempt carers from the benefit cap is growing, with Rt Hon Frank Field MP, Chair of the Cross-Party Parliamentary Work and Pensions Committee, writing to Lord Freud, DWP Minister for Welfare Reform, calling forparents caring for adult children with a disability to be exempt from the policy5.
For more information on the benefit cap and how it affects carers, visit the Carers UK website: www.carersuk.org/help-and-advice/financial-support/help-with-benefits/benefit-cap
About Carers UK
Carers UK is a charity led by carers, for carers – our mission is to make life better for carers. www.carersuk.org