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UK government dementia adviser resigns after caregiver prosecuted | caregiver

UK government dementia adviser resigns after caregiver prosecuted |  caregiver

 


One of Rishi Sunak's dementia advisers has resigned over the government's approach to unpaid carers, describing its prosecution of vulnerable people as a pale sight.

Johnny Timpson, who advises No 10 on its dementia strategy, said he wanted to take a stand after the Guardian reported that tens of thousands of unpaid carers were being slapped with hefty fines and, in some cases, prosecuted for minor breaches of income rules. .

A former Cabinet Office adviser said she had been quite disillusioned with the Conservative government's approach to disabled people for some time, but it had now come to a head.

The fact that we have made absolutely no progress on social welfare. [and] We have not adequately supported carers during the pandemic, he said. However, this latest DWP approach [Department for Work and Pensions] Trying to get benefits back from carers and disabled people, especially those with neurological disabilities, is simply impossible for me.

The Guardian has in recent weeks exposed and documented the despair and misery experienced by unpaid carers who have been forced to pay hefty fines and even been accused of fraud after minor breaches of rules on earning carers' allowances, sometimes worth a few pounds.

This includes a 92-year-old woman with advanced Parkinson's disease. She was ordered to repay about $7,000 in disability benefits for failing to notify the Department of Health of a change in her circumstances five years ago, when she was in the early stages of dementia. The DWP said it was reviewing her case urgently.

Timpson, who was awarded an OBE in 2022, took part in the Prime Minister's Dementia-Friendly Communities Champions Group. He was previously the Cabinet Office Ambassador for Disabled Persons.

He said the DWP's approach to carer's allowance breached its own policy to protect vulnerable benefit claimants. The DWP has weak customer policies and practices and frankly does not follow them, he said.

We have a huge focus on regulation on fundamental customer support in the regulated sector and I wanted to take a stand and raise this issue because the DWP is completely out of touch with what happens in private sector organizations and no one has really considered it.

He said the DWP had become too big and too removed and should potentially be disbanded as part of wider reform of the welfare sector.

Separately, Kathryn Townsend, one of the government's disability ambassadors, described the DWP's approach as very worrying and urged it to immediately stop clawing back carer allowance overpayments.

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In a letter to Pensions Secretary Mims Davies, Townsend, the banking sector's disability ambassador, said reports of unpaid carers being owed huge sums of money were very concerning. She added that there is an increasing risk of financial and non-financial harm faced by already vulnerable individuals.

The criticism comes as Davis prepares to face tough questions from MPs on the House of Commons Work and Pensions Select Committee on Wednesday.

A Government spokesperson said: Carers across the UK are unsung heroes who make a huge difference to the lives of others. We have increased carer's allowance by almost 1,500 since 2010 and provided up to $8.6 billion in additional funding over 2023/24 and 2024/25 to support the social care sector and hospital discharges.

We are committed to ensuring fairness in our welfare system by putting safeguards in place to manage repayments while protecting public funds. Claimants have a responsibility to keep the DWP informed of any changes in their circumstances that may affect their compensation and, if this does not happen, it is right for them to recover money from the taxpayer.

Sources

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2/ https://www.theguardian.com/society/2024/apr/23/rishi-sunak-dementia-adviser-resigns-over-treatment-of-unpaid-carers

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