Petition Repeal the Social Security (Overlapping of Benefits) (Jersey) Order 1975
This antiquated law prevents people of pensionable age being allowed to receive a Home Carers Allowance or any other benefit as well as their Old Age Pension which is rightly theirs following years of contribution. HCA should be paid as well as OAP as carers save the States millions of £’s each year
This response was given on 26 November 2021
The Minister acknowledges the vital role of carers and is planning extra support. The Order is key to the rules of Social Security scheme. The Minister is not prepared to consider its repeal.
The work done by family carers is extremely valuable to Jersey, and Government support is already available through a range of schemes.
The Long-Term Care scheme acknowledges the role of family carers within the overall care package for an individual and provides financial support towards respite breaks. The Income Support benefit provides additional support of £51.38 a week to a family carer of any age living in an Income Support household, on top of their normal Income Support entitlement. The Employment Law gives all workers the right to request flexible working, to help them arrange that caring responsibilities around paid work outside the home.
The Jersey Care Model was approved by the States Assembly last year and is currently being developed. It acknowledges the importance of providing support in the community, including that provided by family carers. Its 3 central principles are:
- Ensure care is person-centred with a focus on prevention and self-care, for both physical and mental health
- Reduce dependency on secondary care services by expanding primary and community services, working closely with all partners, in order to deliver more care in the community and at home
- Redesign health and community services so that they are structured to meet the current and future needs of Islanders
In addition, through Local Services there are a number of clusters which see Government and Civil Society working to support islanders in specific areas such as Learning Disability, Older Persons, Cancer, Children and Young People, Homelessness and Mental Health as well as Government’s work to deliver the Disability Strategy.
The Minister has previously announced plans to provide extra financial support for family carers in the Government Plan. This project was originally planned for 2020 but has been delayed due to Covid. The project will look at the extra household expenses incurred when a family is providing care to a family member at home. The project has recently restarted and will continue into 2022. The intention is that a new tax-funded payment will be created, and budget has been set aside for this purpose.
The Home Carer’s Allowance is a contributory benefit provided through the Social Security scheme. It is available to a working aged adult who gives up full time work in order to care for someone who has high care needs. This benefit is paid at the standard rate of £232.47 a week and requires the carer to satisfy contribution conditions. In November 2021 the States Assembly agreed a change to the Allowance. This will allow carers to undertake paid work for up to 15 hours a week and still claim the full HCA weekly amount. Previously, carers were restricted in the amount of wages that could be earned from an outside job. The change to hours was made following requests from carers to provide more flexibility in this area. When a carer is receiving HCA, they also receive a full pension record for that period.
At pension age, if a carer is already receiving HCA, the Law allows them to choose between continuing to receive HCA or moving to their old age pension. In this way, the carer can choose the benefit which is most advantageous to them. It is not possible to make an application for HCA if the carer is a pensioner when they first make a claim.
The Overlapping Benefits Order is an important part of the structure of the Social Security scheme. It sets out rules as to benefit entitlement when an individual qualifies for more than one benefit at the same time. A fundamental principle of the overall scheme is that individuals who qualify for weekly benefits will only receive one benefit for each week. For example, if an individual is ill during a period when they are claiming a Parental Allowance, it is not possible to claim Short Term Incapacity Allowance and Parental Allowance for the same week.
In most cases, the benefits paid from the scheme relate to the individual being unable to work during that week and the scheme then provides a payment for that week in which wages are not being received.
If the Overlapping Benefits Order is repealed, these rules will no longer apply, and individuals will be able to make multiple benefit claims for the same period and receive multiple payments in respect of the same week.
This would be a significant change to the way in which the Social Security scheme currently works and would need major changes to IT and administrative systems to implement. It would also significantly increase the cost of running the scheme.
The main benefit paid out of the Social Security Fund is the old age pension. The number of people reaching pension age is increasing and will continue to increase as a result of the overall ageing demographic. The cost of providing pensions in the future will grow rapidly and some of the reserves that are being built up in the fund will need to be drawn up on to meet these increased costs. There may also need to be changes to contribution rates or other changes to the scheme in the future to support these pension payments.
The Minister does not support the repeal of the Overlapping Benefits Order. It would lead to increased costs as a time when the Fund is under increasing pressure from the growing number of pensioners supported through the fund and it is unclear why individuals should be able to claim multiple benefits for the same week.
At 5,000 signatures...
At 5,000 signatures, this petition will be considered for debate in the States Assembly