We are supporting Carers UK in their #FairerForCarers campaign and have joined 5,000 people in signing an open letter written by Carers UK to the Chancellor, Rt Hon Rishi Sunak MP. The letter has been submitted today (3 February 2021) and calls on him to address the financial hardship carers are facing during the pandemic and increase the financial support for people entitled to Carer’s Allowance.
Read the letter in full:
People caring round the clock for older, disabled or seriously ill relatives throughout the COVID-19 pandemic have been left short of financial support yet again.
National charity Carers UK has repeatedly called for the incomes of people entitled to Carer’s Allowance, the main benefit for those caring for 35 hours or more each week, to be raised. This would recognise the contribution of unpaid carers through the crisis and the rising costs they are facing caring for longer hours at home.
Previous research by Carers UK and the Universities of Sheffield and Birmingham found that more than 100,000 unpaid carers had to rely on a foodbank during the first lockdown. Many thousands are struggling to make ends meet as they provide significant hours of care.
The Government has announced that on 12th April 2021 the benefit, currently £67.25 a week, will increase by 35p to £67.60 a week, in line with inflation.
That means for every hour of care provided, carers receiving the allowance will get just one penny.
Helen Walker, Chief Executive of Carers UK, said:
“After everything carers have had to withstand during this pandemic, I know many will feel insulted that their Carer’s Allowance has increased by a paltry 35p a week.
“Unpaid carers are taking on more care than ever and have been struggling with the increased costs, yet they have received little targeted financial support to help them. They have been essential in protecting our health and social care systems during the pandemic - to the detriment of their own health.
“It can only be right that the Government gives back to carers. Without a significant uplift to Carer’s Allowance, many carers will continue to face hardship and suffering as they remain caring around the clock. The Government must act now to make Carer’s Allowance fairer for carers.”
Reduced support from community services such as day centres and support groups during the pandemic – some of which have closed completely - has seen large numbers of working-age carers reduce their working hours to care, or make the hard decision to give up work altogether. Many are struggling alone through the third lockdown, with limited support from formal services and family and friends.
Carers UK is calling on the Chancellor to award a £20 a week supplement for carers entitled to Carer’s Allowance to match the increases awarded to those on Universal Credit. This would help carers manage both the higher costs of caring during this winter lockdown and the lack of services available to help them stay in work.