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Last Updated: Saturday, 22 September 2007, 13:40 GMT 14:40 UK
Carers gain from policy change
By Paul Lewis
BBC Radio 4's Money Box

Elderly gentleman in a wheelchair with a carer
Carers receive an allowance for the valuable support they provide
Thousands of carers could gain nearly 47 a week after a government change of policy.

It has announced it will increase the amount carers can earn before losing their of 46.95 a week allowance

The rise in the threshold from 87 a week to 95 will match the rise in the minimum wage from October 1st.

Without the change carers working for 16 hours a week would have lost their carer's allowance when their wages rose to more than 87 a week.

Campaigners had called for the change last February, but until now the government had refused to act.

But just ten days before the minimum wage was due to rise, secretary of state for work and pensions, Peter Hain, announced he would raise the earnings limit to stop carers losing their allowance.

The carer's contribution

"Carers play a vital role in our communities, providing invaluable help and support for their loved ones.

"It is right that where we can offer further support we do so."

The problem was highlighted by the BBC's Money Box programme in February last year.

We are delighted that government has listened
Imelda Redmond, chief executive of Carers UK

Sarah, who cares for her mother and her 14 year old son, told the programme she worked 16 hours a week in a chemist on minimum wage.

But she had lost her carer's allowance when minimum wage went up last year.

Carers in her position got their allowance back in April when the earnings limit was raised.

But they were due to lose it again on October 1st when the minimum wage rises to 5.52 an hour, pushing their pay above 88 for a 16 hour week.

The new limit of 97 gives a comfortable margin above that level.

Governmental reviews to come

Imelda Redmond, chief executive of Carers UK said, "We are delighted that government has listened.

"Every time the national minimum wage rose, carers were often forced off benefit or forced to give up work."

She also welcomed a government commitment to review carer's allowance and the support given to Britain's estimated six million carers, who between them, give care which has recently been estimated at 87 billion.

Early in September the prime minister announced a standing commission on carers.

The government has said the change in the earnings limit is an interim measure pending a full review of the National Carers Strategy.

BBC Radio 4's Money Box was broadcast on Saturday, 22 September 2007 at 1204 GMT.

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SEE ALSO
External internet links
21 Sep 07 |  Inside Money
Have Your Say: Carer's Allowance
02 Mar 07 |  Moneybox
Carers 'losing out' as wages rise
24 Feb 07 |  Moneybox

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