The pilot phase of a new benefit that will be paid to over 80,000 carers has begun in Scotland.
Unpaid carers in Perth and Kinross, Dundee City and Na h-Eileanan Siar (Western Isles) will be among the first who are able to apply for the Carer Support Payment.
Carers in more areas will be able to apply from spring next year as part of the phased roll-out before the benefit is available nationally by Autumn 2024.
The Carer Support Payment was designed with carers to replace to the Carer’s Allowance which is currently in place.
The new payment will provide information to carers to help them access wider support and extending the eligibility criteria to let full-time students apply.
Around 1,500 more people across Scotland are expected to be eligible for Carer Support Payment as a result.
The payment will help people like mum-of-two Gemma, who cares for her two disabled children and her grandparents.
“I’ve always dreamed of going to university to study but didn’t think it would happen as I couldn’t afford to lose Carer’s Allowance. Being able to get Carer Support Payment while studying will be life-changing. It gives me an opportunity I didn’t think was possible.
“A lot of people don’t realise they’re carers, especially mums. They think they’re just being a mum and technically they are but they’re also dealing with a lot that other parents don’t, so they are much more than that. It’s important they know that help is available,” she added.
Social justice secretary Shirley Anne Somerville said: “A huge amount of work has been done to create a benefit and system that better meets the needs of carers who play a vital role in the lives of the people they look after and their community.
“This pilot phase allows us to put our new approach into practice, learning and improving ahead of the benefit beginning its phased roll out from spring next year.
“I urge anyone in the pilot areas who thinks they might be eligible for Carer Support Payment to check if they are entitled and if so, apply. Carers living in other parts of Scotland who think they may be eligible should still apply for Carer’s Allowance.”
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