Scottish Conservative candidate for Dumfriesshire, Oliver Mundell has backed an increase in support for carers when new welfare powers are devolved to Holyrood.
His calls come following a speech by Scottish Conservative leader, Ruth Davidson MSP to the party’s conference in Manchester, in which she announced support for an increase in the Carer's Allowance – one of the new benefits which will soon be the responsibility of the Scottish Parliament under the new package of powers devolved by the Smith Commission.
The allowance currently is below the level of Jobseeker's Allowance and the Scottish Conservative Party have called for the allowance to be at least the same amount. Increasing the allowance in this way would amount to a £600 a year boost in the support carers receive.
Mr Mundell argues that the current system is unfair and discriminates against those who take the difficult decision to stay at home and look after a loved one. He believes the proposed changes could make a real difference to local families here in Dumfries and Galloway, particularly given the aging local population.
In what is a largely area, Mr Mundell believes it is vital to recognise the role local careers play in ensuring that the elderly and vulnerable are able to remain at home and receive the support they need in the community.
He feels that with £2.5bn worth of welfare payments transferring to Holyrood, it is now a sensible time to look again at the help that is on offer to support those who are in need.
Commenting, Oliver Mundell said:
“This is an issue which is extremely close to my heart having seen many friends and family struggle with the difficult decisions that caring for relatives brings. I believe it is high time that their sacrifices and efforts are better recognised and this measure which is currently worth an extra £600 a year would go some way to addressing the current imbalance.
"The welfare system is there to support people back into work but it is also there to help those, like carers, who can't. Right across Dumfries and Galloway, husbands, wives, partners, parents and children are looking after a family member 24 hours a day, seven days a week. That fact alone deservers a great deal of gratitude and respect but it is also right to recognise that there efforts save the taxpayer billions of pounds by ensuring that someone who needs help can get it at home.
"It therefore seems deeply unfair that these carers receive less money per week than if they were on Jobseeker's Allowance. In my view, people who are doing so much for a loved one and for our community, should not get any less support than someone who is looking for a job.”
"Obviously, no one becomes a full-time carer for the financial benefit but they do deserve a little extra help and I am proud that the Scottish Conservatives have made this commitment.”