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Fairer for Carers - background information

180713 careuk fairer for carers

Carers UK has for many years been campaigning for better financial support for unpaid carers through its #FairerForCarers campaign.

Carer’s Allowance, the main benefit for people caring unpaid for family or friends, remains the lowest benefit of its kind at £67.60 per week (2021/22 rates). Because of the low level of the payment and other entitlement conditions, including an earnings limit, the benefit continues to be ineffective in preventing financial hardship.

Despite the huge contribution unpaid carers make to society, too many face financial hardship. At least 1.2 million carers are now living in poverty across the UK[i], whilst half of working age carers live in a household where no-one is in paid employment. Compounding this situation, on average, 600 carers a day are having to leave work to provide unpaid care.

The coronavirus crisis has only compounded the difficulties many carers face; our research into the impact, Caring Behind Closed Doors, found that carers’ costs were rising, whilst their benefits are not keeping pace. 81% of carers are spending more during the coronavirus outbreak – the rising costs they face include increased domestic bills, paying for additional care and support services, buying equipment to adapt homes, and/or purchasing technology to help with caring.

To alleviate the financial hardship that many unpaid carers face, we are now urgently calling for an immediate rise in the level of Carer’s Allowance. Specifically, we are asking for eligible carers to receive:

  1. 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. We are also calling for accompanying rises to Carer Premium and Carer Addition, and for this payment to be made to carers with an underlying entitlement to Carer’s Allowance, so older carers on low incomes can also benefit. 

    As a minimum we would like to see a rise in Carer’s Allowance and associated premia,
    to at least match the effective rises we have seen in Scotland.
  2. For the earnings limit for claiming Carer’s Allowance to be raised, to ensure those juggling work and care on low pay also receive support. The current earnings threshold does not align with the National Living Wage (NLW), meaning a carer can only work for less than 15 hours per week without losing eligibility to Carer’s Allowance. The earnings limit should be raised from £128 a week to at least £139.52 for 2020/21 and should be linked to the NLW in future years.

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. It’s time we made Carer’s Allowance #FairerForCarers

What we have done

What is Carer’s Allowance?

Currently £67.60 (2021/22 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.

Carer’s Allowance in Scotland:

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).

The Scottish Government announced in June 2020 that it will also be making an extra Carer's Allowance Supplement payment of £230.10. This is on top of the usual June payment. This is a one-off payment to provide some more support for carers during coronavirus.

Further reading:

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.

Contact us:

Click here to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for more information about Carer’s Allowance

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

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