Sheffield Heeley has as many as ten thousand carers and on Thursday Louise used a debate in Parliament to speak up for them urging Ministers to do more to support them.
Carers provide a lifeline to some of the most vulnerable people in our society and save the economy billions per year.
However many go without the information they need on the services available to them and struggle to make ends meet.
Louise had been contacted by a constituent to tell her that since the recent rise in the minimum wage her part-time weekly income has taken her over the earnings threshold to entitle her to the £62pw carers allowance.
Louise pressed the Minister to increase the threshold and stop the penalising of carers who work part time – who have seen the wage rise nationally only for them to have to cut their hours or lose their entire allowance.
Speaking in the Commons Louise said:
“This has happened to a constituent of mine, so I can tell my Honourable friend what she has had to do. She has had to drop her hours in work from 16 to 15 hours a week because that 16 hours a week put her £5.20 over the income threshold and took away every penny of her carers allowance. I implore the Minister to look into this it would only be a £5.20 increase for the income threshold and I would really appreciate it if he would come back in his closing remarks.”
Speaking afterwards, Louise said:
“There are as many as ten thousand carers in my constituency and they are some of the most dedicated, brilliant people I have met. Many of them will be stuck between a rock and a hard place as a result of the nonsensical decision not to raise the earnings threshold in line with the minimum wage rise as they always have done in the past. Disgracefully they have seen the minimum wage rise only for them to have to cut their hours to reduce their pay or they would end up losing out overall.”
“Carers shouldn’t be forced to cut hours or lose their entire entitlement to this vital allowance. I’m glad the Minister indicated he was listening but it's about time he acted on behalf of the dedicated carers who are such an asset to our country”
You can watch Louise's contribution here.
Responding the government minister, Alistair Burt said that the earnings limit was 'under review' and suggested that his Treasury colleagues might be interested in the remarks made by Louise and others:
“The Government keeps the earnings limit under review and keeps under consideration whether an increase is warranted or affordable.”
“That limit is kept under review and there is a wider review of carers strategy. Not just the amount but interlinking. As NLW increases so should threshold.”
“I’m quite sure colleagues in the Treasury won’t have missed the remarks made.”