Select Committee on Social Security Minutes of Evidence

Supplementary memorandum submitted by Carers National Association (SG38)

  The Committee asked the following question and Diana Whitworth, Chief Executive of CNA responded by saying that CNA would provide the Inquiry with further written information. The following represents CNA's recommendations in answer to this question:

Q.83.   Which categories should be exempt in regulations?


  The Welfare Reform and Pensions Bill gives the Secretary of State powers to make regulations to exempt certain categories of people from an immediate work focused interview. This provision is currently under Clause 47 (6) (b) (ii), which states that,

    "regulations may provide that any requirement to take part in an interview that would otherwise apply to a person by virtue of such regulations:

    (b)  is not to apply if the designated authority determines that an interview

    (ii)  would not be appropriate in the circumstances; and the regulations may make provision for treating a person in relation to whom any such requirement does not apply, or does not apply until a particular time, as having complied with that requirement to such extent and for such purposes as are specified."

  As we emphasised in our oral and written evidence to the Joint Inquiry, CNA believes that all carers who are providing "regular and substantial care" should be exempt from the requirement to attend an immediate work focused interview. We consider that these carers should be informed of the process and have the right to go through the Single Work-focused Gateway if they so wish. Carers who feel their situation may enable work in the future could have the right to defer an interview. Any decision not to comply with this should then be clearly justified by the personal adviser. We believe that this should be detailed in regulations under the above provision.

  This proposal would maintain the flexibility and sensitivity that the Government seeks, whilst responding appropriately to the needs of this vulnerable group of people. It would ensure that all carers are not wholly ruled out of the Single Work-focused Gateway and yet it ensures protection for those who feel that a work-focused interview is not appropriate for them. We believe that this could prove to be critical to the success of the Single Gateway.

  In addition to this, our belief is that personal advisers may welcome clear regulations and the clarity this brings rather than guidance.


  1.  CNA believes that all carers claiming either ICA or Income Support in respect of being a carer, or a combination of both, should be exempted in the regulations from attending a compulsory work focused gateway interview, as discussed above.

  2.  If the Government maintains that it does not wish to follow this course of action, then we would suggest that the following groups of carers are exempted:

    —  carers who are themselves either sick or disabled;

    —  carers who state at the Registration and Orientation stage that their caring responsibilities mean that they cannot currently consider paid employment in the short term;

    —  carers who have recently been bereaved (ie not just widows);

    —  carers making repeat applications for ICA (ie when the person for whom they care returns from a period in hospital);

    —  carers who are already combining ICA with paid employment of less than 16 hours per week.

  3.  At the very least we would expect the following group of carers to be exempted:

    —  carers caring for people who are in receipt of Attendance Allowance (AA) and Disability Living Allowance (DLA) at the highest levels (ie those who require 24 hour care).

Carers National Association

June 1999

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