Carers UK has condemned the 11th hour publication of Government analysis which shows that cuts to disability benefits will result in a knock-on reduction of at least 10,000 in the number of people eligible for Carer's Allowance.
The main benefit for carers, Carer's Allowance, is linked to the benefits of those they care for – currently Disability Living Allowance, which is to be gradually replaced by Personal Independence Payment (PIP) from April.
Previous indications from Government were that, despite a planned 607,000 cut  to the numbers of disabled people receiving financial support, introduction of Personal Independence Payment ‘will not affect' numbers entitled to Carer's Allowance.
But a shocking cut to Carer's Allowance has emerged in the last minute publication of a Department for Work and Pensions assessment which shows that 10,000 fewer carers will be entitled to Carer's Allowance by 2015.
This represents a devastating £31 million cut in financial support for those caring full-time for elderly sick or disabled loved ones. This means that many families affected will face the double loss of the disabled person losing support from disability benefits and that a carer looking after them would simultaneously lose their income from Carer's Allowance.
Families ‘will feel betrayed'
Carers UK Chief Executive Heléna Herklots, said: “These shocking figures show that thousands of carers are going to be stripped of Carer's Allowance as a result of the Government's disability benefit cuts.
Carers sacrifice so much to care for loved ones and make a huge contribution to family life and our society. They contribute an estimated £119 billion to the UK economy with the care they provide, often at the cost to their health, careers and family finances.
In return, the Government is now cutting financial support for carers by £31 million – meaning that thousands of families now face the devastating double blow of disability and carers' benefits. This comes on top of cuts to social care services, cuts to Housing Benefit support for carers who need a separate room to sleep in, forthcoming reductions in support with Council Tax and thousands of carers who will have their benefits capped – a perfect storm of cuts to families already struggling to care for loved ones.
After many warm words from Government celebrating carers' contribution to our country, families will now feel betrayed. The Government must urgently set out what support will be available to carers who lose Carer's Allowance but continue to provide full-time care.”
Last minute impact assessment
Carers UK and Parliamentarians had called for an assessment of the impact on carers of the replacement of Disability Living Allowance, since the policy was announced in 2010 – arguing that it posed significant risks to carers' incomes.
The new impact assessment, published on Friday 8th February, has been published just two months before the plans are implemented in April, and Carers UK argues this this leaves no opportunity for adequate parliamentary scrutiny and comes after MP's last opportunity to amend the plans.
Heléna Herklots said: “We have been shocked at the Government's consistent lack of care in assessing the impact of its changes to benefits on carers. This is one of the biggest changes in decades to support for disabled people and their families and it is unacceptable that the knock-on impact on carers has been ignored until the very last minute. Carers, already too often invisible and ignored, will feel like a complete afterthought to the Government.”
The charity also notes that this analysis only takes account of the first stage of the changes – a further two thirds of disabled people affected will be assessed after 2015 with the risk that thousands more carers will be stripped of support.