Select Committee to conduct inquiry into the DWPs approach to carers

Carers UK has welcomed the announcement of an inquiry into the Department for Work and Pensions’ approach to carers, which will cover information and advice, income and benefits, employment and training, equality and recognition.

The Work and Pensions Select Committee is an influential committee of MPs which examines the work of the Department for Work and Pensions. It carries out inquiries by gathering evidence from a wide range of organisations and individuals and publishing reports with recommendations to Government. The Government has to respond to these recommendations within two months.

The Committee has recently carried out inquiries on child poverty, pensions and skills. The announcement of the inquiry on carers shows how it is now one of the key political issues which politicians are thinking about.

Key areas likely to be covered by the inquiry are:

  • Information, guidance and advice. Are carers sufficiently aware of their benefit entitlements and the support available to them? Is the Department providing high quality guidance and advice to carers? How is the Department working across Government to avoid unnecessary bureaucracy for carers when seeking guidance, advice and financial support?
  • Income and Carer's Allowance. What is the impact of caring on carers earning potentials? Do carers receive sufficient support with additional costs as a result of caring? Are benefits and allowances adequate in minimising the financial impact of caring? Do benefits and allowances impact on barriers and incentives to work or carers' ability to engage in education and training, if so how? Do benefits and allowances impact on carers' pension entitlements, if so how? 
  • Employment strategy and training opportunities. Is the Department doing enough to address barriers to employment and training for carers? Is the Department's welfare reform and employment strategy addressing the needs of carers? How is the Department working collaboratively with employers and other Departments to improve carers' job retention or return to work? How is the Department working together with employers and other Departments to improve support in education, training and skills for carers? 
  • Equality, recognition and discrimination. Are there barriers to equality for carers? What are the possible implications for equality legislation in the UK following the current EU legal case on disability discrimination by proxy? Does a carers' profile impact upon their opportunities (e.g. carer of a disabled child, or elderly carer of a partner)?   

The Committee is seeking written contributions on this issue from interested organisations and individuals. The deadline for written evidence is Wednesday 03 April 2008. Oral evidence sessions will take place in the summer. Carers and organisations wishing to respond should read the guidelines for responses here.

Members of the Committee are: Mr Terry Rooney (Lab), Anne Begg (Lab), Harry Cohen (Lab), Michael Jabez Foster (Lab), Oliver Heald (Con), Joan Humble (Lab), Tom Levitt (Lab), Greg Mulholland (Lib Dem), John Penrose (Con), Mark Pritchard (Con), Jenny Willott (Lib Dem)

You can find out more about the Committee and its work here.

Responding to the announcement of the inquiry, Chief Executive of Carers UK Imelda Redmond said:

"How we support carers is one of the great challenges facing our society. As the population ages and more people are living with disabilities, most of us will at some point need to provide care to a family member, friend or neighbour. Currently, too many carers are risking their own health, income and future prospects, despite fulfilling this crucial role in society.

Carers UK is therefore delighted that the Work and Pensions Committee has announced an inquiry to examine the Department for Work and Pensions’ existing approach to carers.

Key areas that are likely to be covered by the inquiry include information and advice awareness, income and Carer’s Allowance, employment strategy and training opportunities and equality, recognition and discrimination. All of these areas have been closely examined during the ongoing review of the National Strategy for Carers and throughout the consultations taking place around the country over the past 8 months.

Carers will have a vital role to play in the coming years. We need to constantly evaluate new evidence and new policies to support carers.  We need to find long-term solutions to prevent poor health, poverty and social isolation.  Society is changing, yet many of our policies for carers were designed in the 1970s.  An inquiry into the effectiveness of the DWP’s approach to carers will be an excellent opportunity to introduce new ideas and devise new solutions, at a time when the revised National Strategy for Carers and the imminent Green Paper on social care are set to deliver real change for carers."

Article provided by Carers UK


Posted by, Asif Yusuf



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