A number of constituents have expressed their concern regarding the funding of Attendance Allowance (AA).
I am also very worried that the Government is looking at giving councils in England more responsibility to support older people with care needs - including people who, under the current system, would be supported through AA.
AA is an important source of financial support for older people with care needs. I recognise how vital and valued this support is in helping meet the additional personal care costs that having a physical or mental disability brings. I therefore appreciate how concerned many people with disabilities and in receipt of AA - and their carers and families - are about the possibility of any changes to AA.
I fear that the Government’s proposals would mean variations in people receiving this essential benefit, as it is unclear whether local authorities will be able to change the eligibility criteria and level of payments available. I also understand that there are concerns that if this money is not ring-fenced, funding for AA will be absorbed into local authority social care budgets, which may be exposed to further cuts.
AA is a gateway benefit for carers in receipt of Carer’s Allowance. I am aware organisations such as Carers UK are concerned that the devolution of AA will mean that in the future carers will find it more difficult to access Carer’s Allowance. I believe our carers must be adequately supported and no carer should be pushed into poverty because of their caring responsibilities. I am also aware organisations such as the RNIB, Parkinson’s UK and the Motor Neurone Disease Association have raised concerns about devolving funding of AA to local authorities.
I hope that the Government will consider and respond to these concerns when setting out its response to the consultation and so I have written to the Secretary of State.