Grant will continue but no ring-fencing, Lewis says

Care services minister Ivan Lewis has confirmed that the carers grant will continue, despite concerns that some councils are siphoning off money for other services.

Promising “good news” on the carers grant soon, Lewis rejected demands from the first national carers summit last week for the reintroduction of ring-fencing.

Lewis told the 250-strong audience at the Carers UK-organised event that the government had set targets on support for carers that had consequences for councils and hinted that more could be done to ensure greater openness among councils about their spending plans.

The grant was worth £185m this year and is designed to fund flexible support for carers, including short breaks.

He said that, although he could not promise that all carers’ problems would be resolved quickly when the revised carers’ strategy was published in March, he hoped it would at least prove that government had given serious thought to each of the major issues identified by carers.

Lewis also promised a “distinct set of new approaches to deal with young carers”.

“To put undue pressure on a child is morally wrong,” he said. “But I can’t tell a kid who wants to love their parent and look after them not to. The question is therefore the level of support that’s made available to allow them to be a normal child too.”

Speaking at the same event, disability minister and former carer Anne McGuire addressed the issue of carers not being entitled to receive the carer’s allowance and a pension at the same time.

“I appreciate how difficult this is. But we cannot get away from the legal reality we are in at the moment. That is one of the reasons the prime minister wants us to look at it.”

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