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Coalition of charities urge Chancellor to target unpaid carers for extra financial support

15 November 2022

In a joint open letter, Carers UK, together with 65 other organisations including DR UK, Age UK and the MS Society, is urging the Government to provide unpaid carers with targeted financial support in the upcoming Autumn Statement.

There are approximately 10.6 million people providing unpaid care in the UK. Those receiving carer’s allowance and providing over 35 hours of care each week are particularly vulnerable to financial difficulties due to their limited ability to earn an income.

They cannot cut back on essential expenditure without potentially compromising the safety of the person they are caring for.

Recent research by Carers UK - Heading For Crisis - found that the proportion of carers unable to afford their utility bills has doubled and two in five carers (39%) in receipt of Carer’s allowance are struggling to make ends meet.

In the open letter, Carers UK highlight that a significant proportion of unpaid carers who are only in receipt of carer’s allowance – the lowest benefit of its kind at £69.70 per week – missed out on key pandemic and cost of living support measures introduced over the last two years:

“We estimate that this specific group of unpaid carers have each cumulatively lost out on nearly £3,000 in the past two years, compared to other recipients of social security.”

To ensure that carers can get through the difficult unprecedented winter months, Carers UK is asking the Government for the following targeted financial support for carers:

  • Ensure that all benefits are uprated, including carer’s allowance and the Carer Element of Universal Credit, so that they are in line with current levels of inflation as soon as possible to help vulnerable groups survive the winter months
  • Provide top up payments for unpaid carers who have an entitlement to Carer’s Allowance to recognise the additional costs they are facing during the current cost of living crisis
  • Raise the earnings limit for Carer’s Allowance to the value of 21 hours a week at the National Living Wage rate (£199.50), to enable carers to work more hours a week where they can, without losing their entitlement
  • Review all carers’ benefits, including Carer’s Allowance to ensure that they work well at supporting all types of unpaid carers and prevent them from falling into financial difficulties due to their caring role.

Helen Walker, Chief Executive of Carers UK said:Unpaid carers on low incomes and providing round the clock care are at crisis point - bearing the brunt of exceptionally high inflation, including a rapid rise in the cost of food and energy and having to turn to food banks.

“In his Autumn Statement this Thursday, the Chancellor must ensure unpaid carers are not overlooked for targeted support from the Government yet again.

“At a minimum, he should ensure that all benefits including Carer’s Allowance are uprated in line with inflation. To recognise the additional financial pressure being placed on unpaid carers, they should also receive a winter top up payment to help them navigate the difficult months ahead.”

A copy of Carers UK’s joint open letter is available from carersuk.org.

See also our recent news story Carers facing unprecedented pressure on their finances.