In a follow up in its inquiry on Support for carers published today, Tuesday 31 July 2018, the Chair of the Work and Pensions Committee expresses their deep disappointment with the Government’s response (also published today) to its recommendations.
Government rejects Committee recommendations with limited justification
The Chair of the Committee says the Government "rejected the mildest of recommended changes with limited argument to support those decisions. All our recommendations were agreed in the spirit of wishing to improve the lives of millions of carers, not to criticise the Department. We would therefore expect the Department to engage openly and constructively with our work and to recognise our report—with recommendations based on a wealth of evidence—as a valuable policy tool to drive progress. In turn, we would expect the Government’s response to set out the reasons for rejecting any recommendations in a detailed and considered way."
The Committee’s inquiry into employment support for carers received 64 written evidence submissions, heard from six panels of witnesses and travelled to Stoke-on-Trent to learn about the lived experiences of carers juggling their responsibilities alongside paid employment. This evidence base informed the inquiry’s report subsequent recommendations, which were agreed unanimously by the Committee. The report and accompanying press release outlining the recommendations are here: Benefits cliff edge for carers means work doesn't pay
Committee presses for clarifications
The follow up letter to minister for disabled people Sarah Newton sets out 7 specific points where the Committee feels "the Department’s response fell short of this standard. I am sending it in the same spirit described above and hope it is received, and responded to, with this in mind."
The letter presses the Government ( PDF 308 KB) to present evidence for the basis of its rejection of the Committee’s recommended policy changes, including, for example, signposting carers to additional services: "a simple step with potentially significant gains…the Government’s reluctance to accept this recommendation is somewhat baffling."
Rt Hon Frank Field MP, Chair of the Committee, said:
"The Government has scored a first: one could be forgiven for thinking it was replying to a totally different report, rather than the well-researched and unanimously agreed recommendations published by the Select Committee on support for carers. There is barely any contact between the evidence and recommendations we published, and the Government’s non-response.
It has barely paid lip service to an issue that is central to the lives of millions of people. I am sure it can do better for this country’s heroic and undervalued carers as well as their families. So we have taken the unusual step of inviting Government to go away and try again."