First minister Nicola Sturgeon has released the 2016 manifesto for the Scottish National Party, and it seems she has made some promises towards those living with disabilities, as well as those receiving the Carer’s Allowance. The manifesto claims to be brimming with ideas that will move the country forward, and that includes raising benefits to those that truly need it.
Currently, the Carer’s Allowance stands at £62.10, and will only allow you to qualify if you are earning less than £102 per week and are caring for 34+ hours a week. This means that technically, the Job Seeker’s Allowance benefit, which stands at £73.10 for over 25’s is higher than those registered as carers. The SNP want to change all of this. In their manifesto, the section aptly titled ‘What we’ll do for disabled people’ highlights the actions the SNP are prepared to take on behalf of those with disabilities in England, Scotland and Wales should they win the election.
The manifesto has promised that the Carer’s Allowance will match that of JSA, claiming that they see the work performed by carers as invaluable. They have also promised to create more and better paid jobs ‘through a national drive to improve productivity, and as a result of this ensure that all social care workers receive the Living Wage by October 2016.’ The increase in the carer’s allowance will see carer’s gaining an annual windfall of £600 which could help dramatically towards their living cost and caring expenses. It is believed that at the moment there are 50,000 Scots claiming the benefit, meaning the promise will come at a cost of £40 million a year. Nicola Sturgeon has justified her decision to make changes such as increasing the allowance and allowing free local, public transport to those with disabilities; ‘if I’m standing here facing re-election five years from now, I want to be judged on the progress we make.’
If her party wins in the coming May election, Sturgeon will publish a social security bill, explaining how it will use their new limited welfare powers. Sturgeon seems to have a strong focus on the needs of the disabled; ‘the contribution carers make to our society is priceless. But the support they receive in the form of Carer’s Allowance is the lowest of all working age benefits. That is simply not fair. That is why I’m delighted to announce today that when our government gets the power to do so we will begin to increase Carer’s Allowance so that it is paid at the same level as Job Seeker’s Allowance’.
Childcare and education is also another focal point of Sturgeon’s new manifesto, claiming that ‘access to high quality early years education for children from deprived backgrounds is the most effective way to reduce the gap in attainment.’ A commitment already been put forward is increased free nursery care to vulnerable two year olds, all 3 and 4 year olds to 30 hours a week. The change doesn’t stop there, and in an attempt to revolutionise childcare Sturgeon is giving parents the option to take their hourly entitlement and fit it around their own working patterns, taking them as either full or half day sessions. If the SNP is voted into parliament for a third time, the promises will keep on coming, with plans to invest an extra 200 million into the NHS.