Close to one million carers are being promised an annual bonus in proposals set out by the Liberal Democrat party. The party’s leader and deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said their manifesto for the next general election will include a promise to increase Carer’s Allowance for each claimant.
It will go up by £125 every year reaching £250 by 2020. The extra money will be paid to carers who have been receiving state support for 12 months. This extends to 85% of claimants.
Nick Clegg praised the ‘superhuman’ work being done by what he called a ‘hidden army’ of carers in the United Kingdom. The leader said:[quote]Carers are Britain’s unsung heroes – up and down the country behind closed doors, you’ll find a hidden army of carers doing amazing things every day. It is estimated that six in ten of us will at some point in our lives find ourselves caring for someone else – an elderly relative, a sick child, a friend who needs our support. Obviously this makes a massive difference to the people being cared for – but Carers UK calculated that it saves us a whopping £119 billion every year – more than the entire NHS budget[/quote]
However, Nick Clegg and the Liberal Democrats have given no indication of how £130 million will be raised in order to support this scheme. Some have feared that it will lead to cuts elsewhere in the welfare budget.
The Liberal Democrats do not have a good record of following through on their word either. Their main campaign pledge to not raise student fees was broken when they joined a coalition with the Conservative party in the last general election. It sparked outrage from those in higher education. The Lib Dems later lost all but one of their MEPs in the European election sinking them to fifth place behind the Green Party with 6.9% of the vote.
Nick Clegg continued:[quote]These are people who deserve our support even in these straitened times, which is why the Liberal Democrat manifesto will include a Carer’s Bonus to give them a little extra help. It is completely up to the carers themselves how they spend it – it is a no strings attached bonus from a party that is grateful for the superhuman work they do.[/quote]
He suggested that the money could be spent not only on those who need care, but treats for the carers themselves who might need a break.