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Fairer for Carers

180713 careuk fairer for carers

Carer’s Allowance is the lowest benefit of its kind at £67.25 per week (2020/21 rates). It is the main benefit for people caring unpaid for family or friends.

In the short term, we want Carer’s Allowance in England, Wales and Northern Ireland to be raised by at least £8.85, to match the changes being made in Scotland – due to the introduction of the Carer Supplement (which applies to Scotland only).

In the long term, Carers UK wants to see an increase in Carer’s Allowance and the Carer Premium (and associated premia) in the rest of the UK, rising annually with Government adjustments for inflation, so that carers living in all parts of the UK see an increase.

Carers UK is calling on the Government to address the financial hardship faced by many carers. Half of working age carers live in a household where no-one is in paid employment, and 1.2 million are living in poverty1.

It’s not fair that any carers in the UK face financial hardship due to their caring situation, or that carers receive different rates of financial support depending on where they live. This has been made even more difficult for carers during the coronavirus outbreak. Our research into the impact, Caring Behind Closed Doors, found that carers’ costs were rising, whilst their benefits are not keeping pace. 

It’s time we made Carer’s Allowance #Fairer for Carers!

What we have done

Carers UK delivered a letter in early 2019 to the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, on behalf of the 6.5 million carers in the UK, calling for Carer's Allowance to be raised. We have used our voice to campaign for a rise regularly, making it a key call in our manifesto for the 2019 general election.  During the onset of the coronavirus outbreak, we have set out evidence making a rise in Carer’s Allowance very pressing.

In May 2020, we also joined with Oxfam, and more than 100 other organisations, in writing an open letter urging politicians across Britain to act to protect carers from a growing poverty crisis – including by raising the level of Carer’s Allowance. You can access the letter in full here.

Why aren’t carers across the UK being treated equally?

In 2021, Scotland will be taking control of some of their own social security benefits, including Carer's Allowance. Until then, the Scottish Government is increasing the value of Carer's Allowance with a lump-sum Carer's Allowance Supplement of £230.10, paid every six months (to be paid in June/December 2020).

These changes will mean that carers in Scotland who receive Carer’s Allowance will get the equivalent of £76.10 per week. The Supplement will not be considered as income for means-tested benefits which means that people in Scotland claiming means-tested benefits will benefit fully from the increase. However, Carer’s Allowance for the rest of the UK will remain unchanged at £67.25 (2019/20 rates).

This means that 778,953 carers in England, Wales and Northern Ireland are £8.85 per week worse off compared with carers in Scotland. This is not fair.

What is Carer’s Allowance?

Currently £67.25 (2020/21 rates), Carer’s Allowance is the main benefit for carers. There are a few rules about who can receive it including providing at least 35 hours of care per week and restrictions on how much someone can earn or study alongside receiving it.

If you are paid Carer's Allowance, it will count as income when means-tested benefits are calculated. However, means-tested benefit calculations will include a carer premium, carer addition or carer element if you receive Carer's Allowance. This means your means-tested benefit will decrease slightly but, overall, you are likely to be better off by the amount of the carer premium, carer addition or carer element.

We are asking for any increase in Carer's Allowance to also be made to the Carer Premium/ addition/ element so that carers on the lowest incomes benefit from the change.

Read more about the Carer's Allowance Supplement, its implementation in Scotland and when it was introduced.

Read more about Carer’s Allowance and who is eligible to claim.

Read more about the changes introduced in Scotland and what Carers UK wants to see happen to carers’ financial support across the UK.

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[1] New Policy Institute (2016) Informal care and poverty in the UK


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