Doubling of payment to unpaid carers backed by Holyrood committee

The committee’s MSPs unanimously backed the proposal to increase the allowance from £231.40 to £462.80.

Doubling of payment to unpaid carers backed by Holyrood committee iStock
Carers: Holyrood committee back rise.

Plans to temporarily double the carer’s allowance supplement given to unpaid carers have been backed by Holyrood’s Social Security Committee.

The committee’s MSPs unanimously backed the proposal to increase the allowance from £231.40 to £462.80 paid to eligible carers in December.

MSPs reported near-universal support for the proposal which aims to ease the economic burden the coronavirus has placed on the estimated 83,000 carers who receive the twice-yearly payment.

During its consideration of the proposal, the committee heard evidence of the damaging impact the burden of caring responsibilities places on unpaid carers, with many reporting the pandemic had made things more challenging, limiting their access to respite and support services.

One carer told the committee that carers had “got the raw end of the pandemic”.

Among the recommendations within the committee’s report, which will be presented to MSPs ahead of a parliament-wide stage two debate on the proposals, included a call for the Scottish Government to consider further increases beyond this one-off measure and to explore how to broaden support for unpaid carers.

Neil Gray, the convener of the Social Justice and Social Security Committee, said: “Evidence we have heard in scrutinising this Bill has demonstrated that unpaid carers, feel isolated and exhausted.

“Many carers said that the pandemic has only exacerbated the issues they face.

“This Bill will go some way towards supporting them and I am pleased carers here in Scotland are getting this recognition of their extraordinary efforts.

“There is unanimous support in our committee for this Bill.

“The Scottish Carers Allowance supplement provides additional support in Scotland, but we heard there is a need to keep increasing our investment in carers.

“We would like to see consideration given to further increases to the payment, as well as how it could expand eligibility and ensure non-financial forms of support is provided to carers in the future.

“Thank you to the army of unpaid carers for the vital support they provide and to everyone who has contributed to our inquiry.”