Carer’s Allowance OUTRAGE: Thousands BARRED from £1,040 cash boost ‘We’ve been abandoned’

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Carer’s Allowance is a Government benefit intended to help people who work for at least 35 hours a week as an unpaid carer for someone who claims certain benefits. According to the latest Department for Work and Pensions report, 1.3 million people were claiming Carer’s Allowance in the UK in February 2020. Those in receipt of the allowance receive a payment of £67.25 per week. But while some benefits claimants saw an additional rise in their rates during the recent lockdowns, some carers have missed out.

Claimants receiving Universal Credit and Working Tax Credit have benefitted from a £20 per week increase during the coronavirus lockdown, meaning they will be up to £1,040 a year better off because of the changes.

However, Carer’s Allowance was not given a boost in light of the pandemic.

Some changes were made to the Carer’s Allowance scheme as a result of the pandemic, but none of the changes resulted in a financial increase for claimants.

In light of coronavirus, claimants of Carer’s Allowance can continue to be paid if they need to take a break in caring due to coronavirus, and providing emotional support remotely counts towards the 35 caring hours a week requirement.

But carers say the absence of further financial support has been difficult, as many have found their work and their costs have increased during lockdown.

Work and Pensions Minister, Therese Coffey, said in May the uplift had not been applied to legacy benefits because of the older IT system legacy benefits run on.

Ms Coffey said: “Our older systems, the legacy benefit systems, it’d take, I understand, quite some time – and I’m talking about several months – to get this to change in the process that we have.“

Many people claiming legacy benefits, such as Carer’s Allowance, feel the way the uplift has been applied is “unfair”, and that the uplift should be applied to other benefits too.

Jane Town, a carer who is currently claiming Carer’s Allowance, told carers feel like they’ve “just been abandoned” by the Government during the pandemic.

She said: “Carers and different organisations have campaigned for many, many years to get Carer’s Allowance raised, even before the pandemic, because obviously carers save the Government millions by caring for relatives, family and friends.

“To be honest, the rate that we get is quite pitiful in comparison to what the actual role entails and what we actually do.

“There’s a threshold for how much people can earn, many people who are carers are actually unable to work because of their care roles, so we’re at a disadvantage to start with.

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“During the lockdown, people who were unemployed and getting jobseeker’s benefits actually had all their requirements wiped so they didn’t have to job hunt etc, so they literally didn’t have to do anything but had £20 more.

“Carers had their roles increase enormously, support was withdrawn, their costs went up, and we didn’t get anything in response to that.”

She added: “In my opinion, the increase needs to be put straight into place, and it needs to be backdated to when everybody else got the start of it.

“Why should we have lost out on £20 a week since March when our costs have gone up… it’s not fair.”

Many carers and charities are campaigning to get the £20 boost applied to other legacy benefits, to provide extra support to people in light of a very difficult year.

A DWP spokesman told the Carer’s Allowance payments increased by £1.10 this year from last year’s rate. They are also due to receive a Christmas bonus of £10.

The spokesman added: “We recognise the valuable role carers play in looking after loved ones; now more than ever.

“Carer’s Allowance was increased this year and we brought in special measures to help carers through the pandemic so they can continue to get Carer’s Allowance if they have to temporarily stop caring, or change the way they do so, because of Covid.

“For those who need extra support we offer additional premiums worth up to almost £2,000 every year, with those on Universal Credit also benefiting from the uplift worth an extra £1,040 a year.”

But carer Ms Town says this is not enough, adding the Christmas bonus is “not worth writing home about”, especially when you compare the one-off £10 ‘bonus’ against an extra £20 per week.

She added: “Carers Allowance is the lowest benefit, it’s even lower than Job Seekers. That’s how little carers are thought of, how unvalued we are that even people without a job receive more.

“The Prime Minister has for the last two weeks ignored being asked about increasing legacy benefits during Prime Minister’s Question time.

“Carers are struggling, many unable to work due to their caring roles and many are struggling with money worries.

“Carers have seen their job roles increase massively during the current situation, many seen their support disappear overnight and been left to care 24/7 for highly complex children.

“Carers save the government millions a year through there roles, but this same government can’t even give them the same increase as everyone else to them. “

The Carer’s Premium is £37.50 per week, or £1,950 a year, and for Universal Credit claimants the payment is calculated monthly at £162.92.

The Carer’s Premium is an extra payment for people who are eligible for Carer’s Allowance and are claiming another eligible benefit, including Income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), Income Support, Council Tax Support, Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, Housing Benefit, Pension Credit or Universal Credit.

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