Old or sick people who employ carers to look after them handed tax break

Old or sick people who employ carers to look after them will be able to access a Government allowance that eases the burden of national insurance costs for small scale employers.

Last year he waived the first £2,000 of National Insurance contributions for all companies but those employing domestic staff including carers, cleaners and gardeners were excluded leading experts to warn people to simply choose to keep their employees “off the books”.

Now those employing a carer will also be allowed to take advantage of the tax break.

The Carer’s Allowance has also been increased from £102 to £110 to make sure increases in the minimum wage do not mean carers with part time jobs lose their support payments.

Dr Moira Fraser, the interim chief executive of Carers Trust, the UK’s largest charity for carers, said that she was “pleased” with the measure and that an increase in the allowance is a “step forward”.

Emily Holzhausen, Director of Policy at Carers UK which represents people who care for their own family members said the measure “goes some way” to reducing the cost of paying for care for families but more needs to be done to bring down the overall costs of care.

She said many of the 1.4 million people providing more than 50 hours unpaid care for loved ones every struggle to afford replacement care when they need support looking after older, sick or disabled loved ones often avoiding employing outside help until they “reach breaking point”.

She said: “Paying the high costs of replacement care creates huge problems for families who need time away from caring to work, look after children or just have a break to look after their own health.

“Families can struggle to afford the care services they need when they are already coping with the financial impact of lost earnings and higher household bills. Many continue without much-needed care services until they reach breaking point.”

The Chancellor also used his Autumn statement to give hospices a VAT rebate worth more than £4million a year in recognition of the “compassionate support” they provide for hundreds of thousands of people.

Geoff Ellis, Chief Executive at Rainbows Hospice for Children and Young People, which cares for youngsters with life-limiting and terminal illnesses from the East Midlands, said: “Anything that reduces the burden of VAT on the hospice is incredibly welcome.

“The refund appears to be available on certain non-business supplies and I look forward to seeing the detail behind the announcement.”

More money for the NHS

The NHS will receive an extra £2billion a year for frontline services, the Chancellor has announced in the Autumn Statement.

A further £1.2billion will be invested in GP services, which will be funded by the fines imposed on banks in the City over the foreign exchange fixing scandal.

George Osborne said that the Coalition government was able to invest in the NHS because of the recovering economy.

“This is not money that busts our plans, but extra money available because we have a plan,” he said. “You cannot have a strong NHS without a strong economy.”

Mr Osborne said the GP services funding was a “down-payment” on the “NHS’s own plan”.

“And instead of returning the foreign exchange fines paid by the banks back to the City, are using that windfall for a £1.2 billion investment in GP services across the UK,” said Mr Osborne.

Health bosses have warned that the NHS is facing a funding shortfall, because increased outgoings are due to outstrip the £100 billion budget it has been allocated from April 2015.

Population growth, the demands of an ageing population, more expensive drugs and higher NHS pension costs have all put growing pressure on NHS resources.

Last month, the Financial Conduct Authority handed out its highest ever fines over the manipulation of the foreign exchange rate. Citibank was fined £226million, HSBC was fined £216million and the Royal Bank of Scotland was hit with a £217million fine.

Ed Balls, the shadow chancellor, had previously called for the Treasury to invest the fines in the NHS.

Andy Burnham, the shadow health secretary, raised questions about the £2billion investment, saying it was money “being recycled from within the Department of Health budget.”

“Given all of these uncertainties there is a real danger that you have led the NHS to believe it is getting more money than you can guarantee,” wrote Mr Burnham in a letter to Jeremy Hunt, the Health Secretary. “In contrast, Labour’s plan for the NHS is fully funded and will give the NHS £2.5 billion a year over and above the plans left by your Government.”