Carer’s Allowance warning: 930,000 people at risk of cut in their benefit payments

Care: Research shows a quarter of UK adults are carers

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Carer’s Allowance is the primary benefit payment for this particular demographic, who have risen in numbers in light of the pandemic. Recent analysis by Carers UK found that more than 930,000 unpaid carers will see their payments fall below the cost of living rate as inflation and household bills continue to soar. This is despite all benefit payments from the DWP being increased earlier this month, on April 11, in line with last September’s Consumer Price Index (CPI) figure.

As it stands, claimants of Carer’s Allowance will see a rise of just £2.10 per week, based on inflation rates of only 3.1 percent.

However, experts in the caring sector are concerned that this may not be enough as the real rate of inflation could reach as high as eight percent in April.

With inflation expected to rise further, carers may end up experiencing real term cut in benefits despite the increase to Carer’s Allowance.

From this month, Carer’s Allowance has risen from £67.60 a week to £69.70, while the earnings limit for those receiving the benefit has gone up from £128 to £132 a week.

On top of this, the National Living Wage (NLW) has also increased, which means that anyone employed under a NLW contract will also see a real terms cut in the number of hours they are able to work while still keeping their Carer’s Allowance.

This has dropped from a maximum 14.36 hours of work per week to only 13.89 hours a week for claimants looking to stay in the limit.

For example, if an unpaid carer goes over the earnings limit, they will miss out on all of their Carer’s Allowance.

For recipients of Carer’s Allowance who are looking after a severely disabled person for more than 35 hours a week, the carer element of Universal Credit will jumped up to £168.81 a month.

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Helen Walker, the chief executive of Carers UK, outlined how pressures are being placed on unpaid carers in light of the pandemic and the cost of living crisis.

Ms Walker explained: “As the cost of living crisis piles on the stress and pressure to household finances across the UK, the below inflation increases to Carer’s Allowance and Universal Credit are yet another blow for hard pressed carers.

“Many carers have a reduced capacity to work because of their caring responsibilities or have had to give up work altogether.

“Despite the majority of carers having taken on more care during the pandemic, which has protected our health and care systems, they face a real terms cut in the level of financial support they receive. Carers do not deserve more hardship when they have done so much.”

Furthermore, the carers expert shared what many unpaid carers have to do to survive due to not having enough money.

She added: “Caring for someone can mean extra costs like having to use more electricity for special equipment, more heating to keep someone frail or unwell warm, and needing to spend more on special food.

“According to Carers UK’s recent research, Under Pressure, a quarter of carers receiving carer benefits were already using a foodbank.

“Today’s real-term cuts mean that many more will face challenging decisions about whether they heat their home or feed themselves.”

The head of Carers UK called on the Government to more for carers across the UK as the cost of living crisis reaches a fever point.

Ms Walker added: “Once again the UK Government has failed to increase the Earnings Limit for Carer’s Allowance in line with rises in the National Living Wage meaning carers can now work just 13 hours a week and retain their entitlement to Carer’s Allowance.

“This is completely counter to the UK Government’s objective to make work pay. What we need urgently is a system that legislates for a year-on-year rise, in line with at least 16 hours at the National Living Wage along with significant increases to carers’ benefits.”

A Government spokesperson said: “We recognise the valuable role of unpaid carers and we’re spending record amounts to support them financially, along with their health, wellbeing and job chances. Carer’s Allowance pays £800 more a year compared to 2010 and families can receive £2,000 a year through the carer’s element in Universal Credit.

 “Those receiving Carer’s Allowance may also be entitled to further support through the benefits system and the £22bn worth of government action to help families with the cost of the living.”

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