Scottish Government proposes one-off coronavirus payment for unpaid carers
The Scottish Government is proposing a £230.10 “special one-off” coronavirus payment for unpaid carers in June, as part of the next emergency coronavirus legislation.
If approved by the Scottish Parliament, the proposal would see an investment of £19.2m to support 83,000 carers, in the form of a Carer’s Allowance Supplement to recognise the additional pressure carers are under due to the pandemic.
The extra payment will be paid automatically to people who already receive the Carer’s Allowance and would mean that carers receive an additional £690.30 this year on top of the allowance and any other income. The supplement is not paid in the rest of the UK.
Cabinet Secretary for Social Security and Older People, Shirley-Anne Somerville said the payment would be “an acknowledgement to carers that we know that they are doing even more right now, and we thank you”.
“We introduced the Carer’s Allowance Supplement to recognise the important contribution unpaid carers play in our society,” she said.
“They provide vital support to family, friends and neighbours. Our collective efforts to slow the spread of coronavirus will see many of these carers experiencing additional pressures, particularly financial, right now.
“The payment will benefit carers who are on low incomes and already have some of the most intense caring roles, providing at least 35 hours unpaid care weekly to a disabled child or adult in receipt of higher-level disability benefits.”
Cabinet Secretary for Government Business and Constitutional Relations Michael Russell will introduce the Coronavirus (Scotland) (no. 2) Bill to the parliament next week.
The announcement came on the same day that more than 100 care, anti-poverty, women’s rights and other national and local organisations joined forces to issue an urgent plea for politicians to do more to protect carers from a “growing poverty crisis”.
In a joint open letter to politicians across Britain, the organisations said carers on the frontline of the fight against the coronavirus were facing “intolerable pressure” and had been “undervalued and under-rewarded for far too long”.
Head of Oxfam Scotland Jamie Livingstone, one of the signatories to the letter, welcomed the one-off payment and said it would provide a “boost for some of those looking after family or friends at home in Scotland will provide some much-needed relief”.
“Many carers, particularly women who deliver most care, were already trapped in poverty before coronavirus and they are telling us that they’re facing rising bills for things like food and other essentials,” he said.
“Carers have been undervalued for too long, and while this extra payment is a welcome step, we must properly value the work of all carers now, and for good.”
Citizens Advice Scotland strategic lead for social justice Mhoraig Green said: “This is good news, and is something we have supported calls for. Carers really do need additional support at the moment and this payment will help them give the person they care for the best possible support during the pandemic.
“This mirrors the increase to Universal Credit, and will provide much-needed income to recognise the increased pressures on carers' incomes, and in many cases an increase in their caring responsibilities.”