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Cost of living crisis

Carers UK is calling on the Government to urgently address the unprecedented financial hardship that unpaid carers are currently facing, in the face of the UK’s cost of living crisis.

Unpaid carers are facing unprecedented financial difficulties because of the UK’s current cost of living crisis, piling further stress on those caring for family and friends after an extremely challenging two years caring through COVID-19. Without urgent support from Government, we are now extremely worried that many will simply be unable to cope.

Caring already comes with additional costs that can have a significant impact on carers’ finances, and we know many carers suffer financial hardship as a direct result of the care they provide. In early 2022, with energy bills predicted to rise by over 50% and with the cost of food and everyday items spiralling, we are now extremely concerned that carers in the UK are facing a cost of living crisis.

Carers told us last year that they were already having to dip into their savings, use credit cards, and cut back on essentials to keep the person they care for warm and healthy. Now, new research, based on a survey of over 3,300 carers that was undertaken in February 2022, reveals that the financial pressure on unpaid carers has become untenable.

Just under half (45%) of unpaid carers told us that they are currently unable to manage their monthly expenses and that any further increases in energy bills will negatively affect their own physical and mental health or that of the person they care for. Many also said they were taking difficult steps to manage their monthly expenses; 58% have cut back on heating, while 14% have already fallen into arrears with their energy bills. In the months ahead, more than 2 in 5 (42%) thought that they would not be able to heat their home to a safe level, while a third (32%) are worried they will have to use a foodbank. 

Things are even tougher for carers in receipt of Carer’s Allowance or the Carer Element of Universal Credit; more than half (58%) were worried they will have to use a foodbank, and 55% are worried that increased energy bills will mean they have to cut back on food.

Our calls on Government:

To ensure carers are supported during this extremely difficult time, we are calling on the UK Government to immediately provide additional and targeted financial support for carers - particularly for those on the lowest incomes. 

In particular, we want Government to take immediate action to:

  1. Increase Carer’s Allowance and other benefits so they rise in line with current inflation predictions when benefit ratings take effect on 11 April 2022. Currently, Carer’s Allowance is set to rise by only 3.1% in April 2022, while inflation (CPI) is expected to reach 7.25%.
  2. Immediately extend the Warm Home Discount scheme to ensure that it include carers on the lowest incomes. This would recognise the additional energy costs often faced by unpaid carers and provide targeted support to those most in need.
  3. We also want to see a rise in the earnings limit for those claiming Carer’s Allowance, so that it is at least equal to 16 hours work at the National Living Wage, and to provide a Carer’s Allowance Supplement to all carers with an entitlement in England, Wales and Northern Ireland – as those in Scotland have received since 2018 – so all carers across the UK receive the same level of support.

It is not too late for the Government to step in and recognise the vital role unpaid carers continue to play in supporting those they care for, and to put in place the much needed financial support they need. Without additional help, many carers, and the people they care for, will face real and increased hardship and suffering.

You can see the open letter we organised to the Chancellor, signed by 77 other organisation, on 18th March 2022, here.

Support our campaign:

Please support our campaign on your social media channels. You can find suggested content in our campaign toolkit, here.

Thank you to the more than 1000 individuals who wrote to their MP to raise awareness of the financial struggles carers are facing using the template letter we provided. This action has now closed

Thank you also to the 77 organisations who signed our open letter to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rt Hon Rishi Sunak MP, calling for immediate action from Government to address the unprecedented financial hardship unpaid carers are facing. Carers UK delivered the letter to the Chancellor on 18 March 2022. You can see the letter in full, and the list of organisations who signed it, here

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