Benefits for carers
Carers and social security
Caring can be a rewarding and positive experience for both the carer and the cared-for person. However, caring is also associated with a higher risk of poverty, poor mental wellbeing and physical health, and can restrict social, education and employment opportunities.
We want to help carers protect their health and wellbeing, so they can continue to care if they wish, and have a life alongside caring. Carer benefits, while not a payment for care, can help achieve this.
We absolutely value the support provided by carers across Scotland, and particularly so at this challenging time. We do not want the covid 19 outbreak to impact on carers’ eligibility for benefits.
During the outbreak, some Carer’s Allowance rules will be relaxed. To allow for self isolating on the part of the carer or cared for person, care does not need to take place in the physical presence of the cared for person as it usually does. Where caring cannot take place due to Covid 19, this will not count as a break in care, and Carer’s Allowance will continue to be paid. Young carers who were eligible for the Young Carer Grant but unable to apply before their 19th birthday due to the disruption caused by Covid 19 can still apply, with their application being considered as though made on time.
Carer’s Allowance Supplement
Scottish Ministers felt that it was unfair that Carer’s Allowance was the lowest of all working age benefits. Our first change when the Social Security (Scotland) Act 2018 was passed was to introduce the Carer's Allowance Supplement.
This has improved the incomes of over 90,000 Scottish carers, increasing Carer's Allowance by 13%. In 2020, the Supplement put an extra £452.40 into carers’ pockets compared to carers in the rest of the UK. This totals over £37 million, and means that in 2019/2020 we are investing over £320 million through Carer’s Allowance and the Supplement.
Young Carer Grant
In autumn 2019 we introduced Young Carer Grant, a yearly payment of £300 for young people aged 16 to 18 who care for someone 16 hours or more each week.
We estimate the grant will help around 1,700 young carers each year get respite and access life opportunities which are the norm for many other young people, as they make the transition into adulthood. The grant is part of a wider package of support for young carers announced in 2017.
We will introduce a new payment for people who get Carer’s Allowance and are caring for more than one disabled child. This is in recognition of the impact on carers of caring for more than one disabled child.
We will also consult to help identify priorities for the replacement for Carer’s Allowance in Scotland, Scottish Carer’s Assistance. The timescales for these will be confirmed in due course.
Making sure benefits work
We speak directly to carers, for example through our Experience Panels, as we develop benefits to help us make changes that genuinely improve carers’ lives. Feedback from carers helps us understand if changes, once implemented, are making a difference, alongside other evidence such as management information and survey data. Read more about our approach to evaluation.
Organisations that work with carers and wider experts also play an important role, including the Carer Benefit Advisory Group, the Young Carer Grant Working Group, the Disability and Carers Benefits Expert Advisory Group, and the Scottish Commission on Social Security.
It is important to us that carer benefits reach everyone who is entitled to them. We are working to improve benefit uptake and also carry out Equalities Impact Assessments for each benefit to identify areas where extra activity is needed.
We increase carer benefits each year in line with inflation so that they keep their value as prices rise.
Wider support for carers
These improvements are on top of increased support for carers including through the Carers (Scotland) Act. This gives all carers the right to a personalised plan to identify what is important to them and the right to support to meet their eligible needs. Every local authority must also have an information and advice service for carers, covering topics including income maximisation, including carer benefits. Read more about our action to support carers.
Policy position papers
We have published a series of social security policy papers setting out our position on the development of the devolved benefits in Scotland.