We, Carers in Hertfordshire, have got involved in Carers UK campaign calling for the Government to urgently increase in the financial support available to unpaid carers – people supporting someone who is disabled, has a long-term or life-limiting illness or is elderly.
We are among a coalition of 92 organisations representing unpaid carers, that has signed a letter calling for improvements to the Carer’s Allowance and associated benefits. The letter has been sent to The Rt. Hon. Therese Coffey MP, Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, and Chancellor of the Exchequer, the Rt Hon Rishi Sunak MP, today, Friday 3rd July 2020. You can see the letter and more about the campaign at www.carersuk.org/fairerforcarers
A main call of the Fairer for Carers campaign is for an increase in Carer’s Allowance, which is the lowest benefit of its kind in England at £67.25 a week and has many exemption criteria.
The letter and campaign calls for:
• The earnings limit for claiming Carer’s Allowance to be raised from £128 a week to at least £139.52 for 2020/21 and the earnings limit linked to the National Living Wage now and in future years.
• An additional supplement to match increases in Universal Credit that have rightly recognised the challenges people on lower incomes have during the pandemic of additional costs.
In addition, the campaign is also calling for:
• Carer’s Allowance in England, Wales and Northern Ireland to be raised by at least £8.85 a week, to match the rate in Scotland – due to the Carer Supplement there; and
• Rises to the Carer Premium and Carer Addition allowances, so older carers on low incomes can benefit.
Despite the huge contribution unpaid carers make to the people they look after and society, too many of them and their families face financial hardship – at least 1.2 million unpaid carers are living in poverty. On average 600 people in the UK give up work each day due to their caring role as they don’t have the support they need to juggle both.
Michèle Stokes, our Chief Executive, said: “Caring usually comes with a cost – travelling, equipment, or loss of income – but carers’ finances have only got worse since the COVID-19 pandemic began. We hope the Government take note of our calls for a better and fair deal for unpaid carers.”
Research by Carers UK shows that 81% of carers have seen increased financial costs relating to caring since the COVID-19 outbreak, 72% are spending more on food and 50% are spending more on household bills.
To learn more about Carer’s Allowance or to apply visit www.gov.uk/carers-allowance or call 0800 731 0297.