Lib Dems promise annual bonus to Sevenoaks carers
By Alan Bullion
Lib Dems promise Carer's Bonus of up to £250 for Britain's "unsung heroes"
Carers will receive a bonus worth up to £250-a-year under a Liberal Democrat government, it has been announced.
The no strings attached Carer's Bonus will help more than one million people who look after disabled loved-ones.
The annual payment will help full-time carers get a bit of extra help and recognises the invaluable contribution they make to society.
Alan Bullion, Lib Dem Parliamentary Spokesman for Sevenoaks said:
"Carers are Britain's unsung heroes. Up and down the country behind closed doors, you'll find a hidden army of carers doing amazing things every day.
"It is estimated that six in ten of us will at some point in our lives find ourselves caring for someone else - an elderly relative, a sick child, a friend who needs our support.
"These are people who deserve our support even in straightened times, which is why the Liberal Democrat manifesto will include a Carer's Bonus to give them a little extra help.
"It's completely up to the carers themselves how they spend it - it's a no strings attached bonus from a party that is grateful for the superhuman work they do."
The bonus would be worth £125 at the start of the next parliament and would rise to £250-a-year by 2020, with around 1.1 million people eligible.
The annual bonus would be available to anyone who receives the Carer's Allowance or the Carer's Premium.
Liberal Democrat Care Minister, Norman Lamb added:
"We know how hard carers work and that one of the most important things to them is getting a break every now again.
"It is why the Liberal Democrats will introduce this Carer's Bonus if we are in government again after the General Election.
"But it's not for us to dictate to them what they do with it - carers know best how to spend the money in the way that will most benefit them and the people they care for."
The pledge follows a number of measures introduced by the Coalition Government to support carers.
Successive Liberal Democrat Care Ministers Paul Burstow and Norman Lamb have led the work to better provide for Britain's unsung heroes.
In Government the party has secured £800 million to fund short breaks for disabled children and their families.
Around £400 million has been set aside to support carers to take breaks from caring responsibilities.
While £3 million has been allocated to improve awareness and understanding about carers among health workers.
Former Care Minister Paul Burstow MP said:
"Carers are the backbone of our health and care system.
"In my work developing the party's response to the challenges and opportunities of our ageing society, I have been determined that we do more to support carers.
"The Carer's Bonus recognises the contribution carers make day in day out. I am delighted Nick is signalling carers as a priority for our party."
Notes to Editors
What has this government done for carers?
£800m Department for Education funding to local authorities to fund short breaks for disabled children and their families.
£400m Department of Health funding to the NHS to support carers to take breaks from caring responsibilities.
£3m Department of Health funding to improve awareness and understanding about carers among healthcare professionals.
£2.7m Department for Education funding to increase awareness and support for young carers in education and training schools.
Extending the right to request flexible working arrangements to all employees from last week.
Statistics from Carers UK
About six in 10 of us will become carers at some point in our lives.
Informal care provided by carers saves the state £119 billion per year.
45 per cent of carers have given up work to care.
61 per cent of carers have faced depression because of their caring role.
49 per cent are struggling financially because of their caring role.
How much will it cost?
The Carer's Bonus will cost £130m initially, rising to £280m by the end of the parliament.
The cost will depend on the value of the Respite Bonus and the number of people entitled to Carer's Allowance.
The Carer's Bonus is paid to people after they have been entitled to Carer's Allowance for one year (which is 85 per cent of the caseload).
Liberal Democrats estimate that around one million will be eligible in 2016/17 for a bonus of £125, which will cost a total of £130m.
By the end of the parliament (2019/20) the eligible population will have risen to around 1.1 million who will receive a bonus worth £250, bringing total costs to £280 million.
Who is eligible?
The bonus will be available to everyone entitled to Carer's Allowance, including those on another income replacement benefit who receive the Carer's Premium.
The carer would be awarded the bonus after being in receipt of Carer's Allowance or Carers' Premium for 12 months (and then every 12 months afterwards).
They would receive it on the anniversary of their original claim.
Around one million carers would benefit from the bonus.
What can carers spend the money on?
Anything they want.
Published and promoted by Tim Gordon on behalf of the Liberal Democrats, both at LDHQ, 8-10 Great George Street, London, SW1P 3AE.