Carer’s Allowance payments ‘falling behind’ inflation

Susanna Reid grills Boris Johnson on support for carers

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Carer’s Allowance is a benefit payment designed for those who look after someone for at least 35 hours per week. It is administered by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and claimants could get up to £69.70 a week. However, experts in the sector are sounding the alarm that Carer’s Allowance at its current rate cannot compete with the fluctuating rate of inflation.

The UK is currently in the midst of a cost of living crisis which is being exacerbated by a rising inflation rate.

As of yesterday, inflation dropped slightly to 9.9 percent but is expected to remain around this level or go up even higher in the coming months.

Earlier this year, the rate of benefit payments including Carer’s Allowance were raised by 3.1 percent which was based on inflation from September of last year.

A consequence of this has been that unpaid carers have seen their benefit payments “fall behind” the growing cost of living, which is what organisations such as Carers UK are warning about.

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Helen Walker, the chief executive of the charity, said: “We welcome the new Prime Minister to her role and hope that unpaid carers will be at the front of her mind in the coming weeks as she tackles the cost-of-living crisis and considers those most adversely affected.

“Caring for relatives who are older, disabled or seriously ill, we know that nearly half of unpaid carers are already unable to manage their monthly expenses.

“Many are cutting back on essentials, using savings or taking out credit cards to keep the person they care for warm and healthy.

“The main benefit for people caring for 35 hours or more per week, Carer’s Allowance, is just £69.70 a week and rapidly falling behind inflation. Unpaid carers must be prioritised for targeted financial support so they are not pushed further into poverty.”

In her request to Liz Truss, Ms Walker urged the UK’s new leader to support the Carer’s Leave Bill which would give employees who are unpaid carers the right to one week’s unpaid leave for caring purposes.

She added: “Our new Prime Minister must also have the social care system marked as urgent in her in-tray.

“Rising costs and limited availability of care services mean millions of older and disabled people are not having their needs met – and family members are having to take on even more care.

“This comes at a significant detriment to their own health and ability to work and during a cost-of-living crisis, is leaving families overwhelmed and at real risk this winter. Social care needs and deserves a longer term sustainable funding solution. 

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“Unpaid carers provide the majority of care in this country – they are the pillar of our NHS and social care system and are facing one of the toughest situations ever.

“Without them, these systems would collapse. Yet too often carers feel invisible to the Government. As our new Prime Minister, Liz Truss must recognise the vital role of unpaid carers and ensure her Government delivers for them.”

Speaking to Express.co.uk, a DWP outlined the support being offered to unpaid carers by the Government.

They emphasised that Carer’s Allowance is “not intended to be a carer’s wage or payment, nor replace earnings”.

However, they noted that claimants may be able to apply for additional financial assistance from the Government.

What support is available to unpaid carers?

Outside of Carer’s Allowance, the DWP highlights that carers may be eligible for a Council Tax reduction, support from their local council, grants or bursaries for courses and training.

In Scotland, claimants are able to apply for an additional benefit known as Carer’s Allowance Supplement.

This is provided by Social Security Scotland, which is the DWP’s equivalent in the country.

Those who are eligible get two payments of £245.70 in June and December of each year.

However, to get this support applicants must be in receipt of Carer’s Allowance by a specific date.

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