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Coalition of charities urge Chancellor: do not overlook unpaid carers yet again for financial support

15 November 2022

The national charity Carers UK, together with 65 other organisations including Age UK and MS Society, is urging the Government to provide unpaid carers with targeted financial support in the upcoming Autumn Statement to ensure they are not left behind amidst the current cost-of-living crisis.

The joint letter calls on the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Jeremy Hunt MP, to provide targeted financial help for carers who are struggling to make ends meet while caring for their disabled, ill, or older friends and family members

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 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.

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

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Raise the earnings limit for Carer’s Allowance to the value of 21 hours a week at the National Living Wage rate (i.e., £199.50), to enable carers to work more hours a week where they can, without losing their entitlement.
  4. 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.”

 

Caroline Abrahams, Charity Director at Age UK, said: "Unpaid carers are the bedrock of care and support in this country and we need to do everything we can to help them. It's been such a tough couple of years for them because of the pandemic and we are worried that for some, the cost-of-living crisis they are facing could be the final straw. At Age UK we hear from many older carers who are worn out and for whom money worries are an increasing concern, so we are delighted to join with Carers UK and others in this campaign."

 

Anastasia Berry, Policy Manager at the MS Society, said: “MS is relentless, painful and disabling and many with the condition rely on the support of family and friends. Our findings show nearly 1 in 2 (41%) of unpaid carers spend 35 hours or more a week supporting somebody with MS – the equivalent of a full-time job. Yet carers themselves often don’t have the practical, emotional or financial support they need, and, like the disabled people they care for, the increased cost of living is hitting them the hardest.

“Unpaid carers receiving Carer's Allowance – which is the lowest rate benefit of its kind – were denied extra support to help with the cost of living crisis. The government cannot overlook them again. At the bare minimum they must increase Carer's Allowance in line with inflation, and must look at how they can support carers through the winter."

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