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New benefit for unpaid carers launches

An unpaid carer helps a young boy in a wheelchair drink from a glass

The pilot phase of a new benefit that will be paid to over 80,000 carers has begun.

Carer Support Payment launched in Perth and Kinross, Dundee City and Na h-Eileanan Siar (Western Isles) on 20th November. The benefit is replacing Carer’s Allowance, currently delivered by the Department for Work and Pensions, in Scotland.

Carers in more local authority areas will be able to apply from Spring next year as part of the phased roll-out. The benefit will be available nationally by Autumn 2024.

Carer Support Payment, the 14th benefit to be administered by Social Security Scotland, was designed with carers to offer them a better experience than Carer’s Allowance.

This includes providing 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 pilot phase will allow Social Security Scotland to put the new approach into practice. Learnings will be used to shape the roll-out of the benefit across Scotland.

Carers in Scotland who get Carer’s Allowance will have their awards transferred to Carer Support Payment, starting from February 2024.

Social Justice Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville said:

“The Scottish Government is working hard to support households in the middle of a cost of living crisis. Carer Support Payment, which supports carers who have the most intensive caring roles and the lowest earnings, is part of our mission to reduce poverty.

"We have expanded the eligibility criteria so 1,500 people who couldn’t get Carer’s Allowance because they studied full-time, can get Carer Support Payment. We also made it easier to apply.

“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.”

For mum of two Gemma, who carers for her two disabled children and her grandparents, the introduction of Carer Support Payment in Dundee means she can pursue her dreams of studying.

The 37-year-old currently gets Carer’s Allowance from the DWP which isn’t available to people who study full-time. Under the new Carer Support Payment rules, Gemma will be able to get the benefit and go to university.

Gemma said:

“I worked from when I was 13 but had to give up my job seven years ago because my oldest needed me so often that I was always having to take time off.

"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.”

Social Justice Secretary Shirley Anne Somerville met carers and staff at Dundee Carers Centre to launch the pilot of Carer Support Payment.

Neil Campbell, CEO of Dundee Carers Centre, said:

“We’re delighted that Dundee is one of the pilot areas where Carer Support Payment is now open for applications. We know that this money will help many unpaid carers looking after a loved one, friend or neighbour.

“At Dundee Carers Centre we support unpaid carers of all ages, including young people in education. We welcome that local full-time students who are carers will now benefit from being eligible for this payment, allowing them to continue their studies alongside their caring role.”

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