A new benefit for unpaid carers is being piloted in the Western Isles, starting from today (Monday, November 20).
The Carer Support Payment is being trialled in Na h-Eileanan an Iar, as well as Dundee, and Perth and Kinross. It will replace the Carer's Allowance and is the 14th benefit available in Scotland.
The pilot will guide the roll-out of the benefit to more areas of Scotland in the spring, before the benefit becomes available nationally by autumn 2024. Once nationwide, the payment is expected to paid to over 80,000 carers.
Developed by the Department for Work and Pensions, the new benefit promises to differ from the previous allowance by providing information to carers to help them find wider support, and extending the eligibility criteria to allow many full-time students to apply.
Those eligible for the benefit are able to apply via Social Security Scotland, with those already receiving the Carer's Allowance automatically transferring to the new support payment from February next year.
Under the current allowance, as of 2023, eligible carers received a payment of £270.50 every six months. Carers who have been continuously in receipt of the Carer's Allowance Supplement since it began in 2018 will have received over £3300 above Carer’s Allowance.
Social Justice Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville was at the Carer Support Payment launch in Dundee, and said: “The Scottish Government is working hard to support households in the middle of a cost of living crisis. Carer Support Payment, which supports carers who have the most intensive caring roles and the lowest earnings, is part of our mission to reduce poverty.
“We have expanded the eligibility criteria so 1,500 people who couldn’t get Carer’s Allowance because they studied full-time, can get Carer Support Payment. We also made it easier to apply.
“A huge amount of work has been done to create a benefit and system that better meets the needs of carers who play a vital role in the lives of the people they look after and their community.
“This pilot phase allows us to put our new approach into practice, learning and improving ahead of the benefit beginning its phased roll out from spring next year.
“I urge anyone in the Western Isles, Perth and Kinross and Dundee City who thinks they might be eligible for Carer Support Payment to check if they are entitled and if so, apply. Carers living in other parts of Scotland who think they may be eligible should still apply for Carer’s Allowance.”