The Scottish Parliament has announced another boost for carers – this time those who work unpaid apart from receiving the government allowance.
It’s only a fortnight since the UK government refused to give people employed as carers the real living wage – as opposed to the fake ‘national’ living wage the Conservatives mocked up a few years ago.
Carers employed in Scotland already receive the real living wage and are therefore £1.09 per hour better-off than those in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Now, the SNP-run Scottish Parliament has announced a one-off Carers’ Allowance top-up of £230.10 in June, to be paid in recognition of the extra pressures unpaid carers are facing because of the coronavirus crisis and lockdown.
And Scottish carers already receive a supplement of £230.10, twice a year.
The top-up announcement means they will receive £690.30 more than their counterparts in the other UK countries this year.
It establishes a two-tier pay pattern for carers in the UK, with those in Scotland automatically better-off than the others, who are therefore now second-class.
Carers in the rest of the UK are already agitating for the national government in London to even up the balance:
Chief Executive of Carers UK Helen Walker said: “The UK Government needs to do its part to ensure the rest of the UK’s unpaid carers receiving Carer’s Allowance – and providing upwards of 35 hours of care a week – also receive a coronavirus supplement.
“This is imperative to show carers that the Government recognises the additional financial costs that they are facing at this time.
“Caring Behind Closed Doors, our research into carers’ experiences during lockdown, showed 81 per cent of unpaid carers had extra financial costs as a result of the crisis.
“At the same time, unpaid carers are under extra pressure, providing more care and not getting breaks.”
This Writer used to be a carer, of course. I received Carers’ Allowance for many years and only gave it up because my earnings from Vox Political meant I was no longer eligible for it.
I still do the work, of course – and if I was still receiving the allowance, I would be furious that the UK government is saying – even if only by default – that my work is less valuable because I don’t live in Scotland; that caring is as much a postcode lottery as the Tories have made healthcare.
Some might argue that it is unfair for Scotland to put the UK’s Tory government in this position – and it’s a reasonable argument.
But if Scotland can afford it, then there’s no reason the much richer, national government can’t. It’s just a matter of priorities.
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