CLAIRE Baker has spoken up for the 8,700 carers across Mid Scotland and Fife amid confusion over payments.

The Scottish Labour politician quizzed the Minister for Social Security, Jeane Freeman MSP, during Communities questions at the Scottish Parliament.

The Mid Scot and Fife MSP asked about the support available to carers throughout the region with the introduction of the carers allowance supplement due this summer.

In particular, Ms Baker raised the confusion facing carers receiving both a carers benefit and council tax reduction. Despite pressure from politicians and outside organisations the Scottish Government have still to announce if the proposed rise in carers supplement would impact on council tax reductions.

The carers allowance supplement is a £30 million a year fund that will see a 13 per cent increase for more than 70,000 carers across Scotland, including the 8,700 in Mid Scotland and Fife.

Currently the Carer’s Allowance is the lowest benefit of its kind, at £64.60 per week. As a result of the Scotland Act, Holyrood now has the power to set a new benefit for carers, which will be introduced in 2019. In the meantime, the ‘Carer’s Allowance Supplement’ has been introduced to bridge the gap.

As a result, those receiving Carer’s Allowance in Scotland will see an increase of £8.50 per week, making it the same level as Jobseeker’s Allowance.

There are more than 100 carers who do an important job looking after after relatives in the Cowdenbeath-Lochgelly area and saving the health authorities a lot of money.

Speaking after the question, Claire Baker MSP said: “Carers do an important job that all too often goes unrecognised. With over 8,700 carers across the region it is vital that they get all the support and help they deserve.

“That is why I welcome the increase in the benefit. It is unacceptable that until this supplement is introduced, carers are receiving the lowest benefit of its kind and I am pleased that the Government confirmed to me that the supplement will be introduced this summer.

“However there is still some confusion over whether this will impact on council tax reductions. We are only weeks away from its introduction and the Government are still not clear about what impact it will have.

“Often carers take on the role, not through choice, but due to a sense of duty and love. We should not be adding undue stress and worry onto carers and the people they are caring for by failing to fully support them.

“Increasing the benefit to ensure it is the same rate as Jobseekers Allowance is a welcome start. However, the Government must ensure carers across Mid Scotland and Fife don’t lose out with their council tax reduction.”