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01/06/14 00:01

A fairer welfare system for Scotland

Working Group set to publish recommendations.

Over 100,000 carers could be entitled to £575 extra per year under plans for a fairer welfare system in an independent Scotland.

The measure comes as part of a wide-ranging series of recommendations due to be made in a report by the independent Expert Working Group on Welfare. The report has now been submitted to the Government and is due to be published next week.

At present, the Carer’s Allowance is the lowest income replacement benefit at £61.35 a week. The Expert Working Group will recommend this should increase to £72.40 per week, the same rate as Jobseekers Allowance for those aged 25 or over.

This change would amount to an extra £575 a year for the 102,000 people in Scotland who are eligible to claim the allowance.

The latest report will be the second to be published by the Expert Working Group, which was set up to consider the options and choices for creating a fairer welfare system in an independent Scotland.

The report will cover what steps an independent Scotland could take as it begins to establish its own welfare system, recommending a series of actions that can be undertaken immediately following independence, as well as a medium-term and longer-term reforms.

Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said:

“The Expert Working Group on Welfare’s report will recommend an increase in the Carer’s Allowance to the same rate as Jobseeker's Allowance, bringing to an end an unacceptable anomaly that sees carers – many of whom have had to give up work to care for a loved one after an accident or illness – awarded the lowest income replacement benefit.

“Increasing this benefit so that recipients are awarded an extra £575 per year eases the burden on households struggling to make ends meet as a result of a relative suffering from a long-term illness or injury that requires constant care.

“That is why I can confirm that we are committed to taking this recommendation forward if we form the first Government of an independent Scotland.

“This is just one example of how we could use the powers of independence to create a welfare system that suits the needs of the people of Scotland, and demonstrates why decisions about social security should be taken by those who live and work here. I’m grateful to the Expert Working Group for the huge amount of work they have done to consider the issues.

“The Group will publish its full report this week, and I look forward to considering its wide ranging package of recommendations to help us create a welfare system in Scotland that better meets our needs.”

Notes to editors

The first report from the Expert Working Group on Welfare was published last year and is available to view here http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Publications/2013/06/8875

Group membership: http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Topics/People/welfarereform/EXPERTWORKINGGROUPONWELFARE/Membership