Learning Disability Today
Supporting professionals working in learning disability and autism services

The Carer Poverty Coalition calls for full review of Carer’s Allowance

The threshold for receiving Carer’s Allowance has failed to keep pace with the National Living Wage for the fifth consecutive year so carers with part time jobs will have to decrease their working hours.

In April, the earnings threshold for claiming Carer’s Allowance will increase by 8.6% to £151 per week. However, the National Living Wage is once again due to rise at a higher rate, by 9.8% to £11.44 per hour.

Over the last five years, the number of hours carers have been able to work earning the National Living Wage, while also receiving Carer’s Allowance, has shrunk from just under 15 hours a week in 2019 to just over 13 hours and 12 minutes from April.

This represents a loss of nearly two hours a week, totaling 13 days over a year – a substantial loss for those, whose caring responsibilities already make them vulnerable to poverty.

It comes as a recent survey by Carers UK found that over a third of carers (34%) had cut back on essentials like food or heating, whilst 45% of those receiving Carer’s Allowance were struggling to make ends meet.

Review of Carer’s Allowance needed

Emily Holzhausen OBE, Chair of the Carer Poverty Coalition and Director of Policy and Public Affairs at Carers UK, said:  “The Government could be doing much more to support unpaid carers to work as much as they are able to, alongside their caring role. We must see a review of Carer’s Allowance, which includes an increase in the earnings limit to 21 hours per week, pegged to the National Living Wage.

“Unpaid carers provide £162 billion a year of care – the cost of a second NHS. Supporting unpaid carers to remain in work benefits families, the economy and society.

“Yet unpaid carers are increasingly living in poverty are struggling to make ends meet with many choosing between heating their homes and putting food on the table for their families. This is clearly unacceptable. The social security system supporting unpaid carers financially should be reviewed as a priority to ensure that there is a more robust safety net for those caring for older, ill or disabled relatives or friends.”

The Carer Poverty Coalition has published a manifesto calling on all political parties to commit to a full review of Carer’s Allowance and other means tested benefits available to carers.

Made up of a group of 130 national and local organisations, the coaliation says this review should include the level of financial support offered to unpaid carers and an increase of the earnings limit to 21 hours per week, pegged at National Living Wage. This will help to ensure unpaid carers are more financially resilient and help those able to work part-time to do so.

It is also urging political parties to announce policies to prevent unpaid carers from falling into poverty in the first place, to provide specific support to stay in and return to work as well as targeted policies to support younger and older carers.



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