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Aron’s story

Aron McKee and his wife Judith, both 40 and based in Northern Ireland, care for their daughter Grace, age 9. Grace has had a number of health problems since birth and her complex needs have meant the McKee family has been shielding throughrought the COVID-19 pandemic. Grace was due back at school last August, but with her tracheostomy and other needs, including autism, the local education authority has said it’s too much of a risk.

Aron and GraceCaring 24/7 has had a big impact on the McKee’s lives. The stress of caring for Grace, fighting to get her an education, and not eating properly has all had a toll on Aron’s own health, and he now has a diabetes diagnosis. Aron says he feels he is in a perpetual state of exhaustion and both he and Judith have had what they describe as their “downs”.

Judith gave up work to care for Grace in 2012 and Aron works part-time so he can also care. Even though Judith’s care for Grace means she is caring round the clock, she receives just £67.25 a week Carer’s Allowance to help her get by. Earning just under £30,0000 a year to just £67.25 a week has been very hard.

When the COVID-19 pandemic struck, services had to close with the McKees having to do more at home. Aron explained, “We have the extra costs of heating the house to keep Grace warm in the colder months, as well as increased electricity bills because we’re always charging equipment like her monitors, suction machines and overhead hoists.” These costs mean that Carer’s Allowance just isn’t enough to get by on.

Whilst Grace remains at home, the couple are seeing their household bills rise even as the rate of benefit they receive remains stagnant.

“Judith has seen a rise in Carer’s Allowance of just £8.80 in eight years,” says Aron. “All we’re asking for is a basic living wage, something we can live on. The Government has given away millions in the furlough and self-employed schemes, and supplemented other benefits, but we’ve seen nothing. We save the state millions by caring for Grace. Where’s our financial support?”


Carers UK is calling on the Government to urgently act to address the financial hardship that many unpaid carers face due to their caring responsibilities, by awarding a £20 a week supplement to carers entitled to Carer’s Allowance. This would help carers manage both the higher costs of caring and the lack of services available to help them stay in work.

Find out more: www.carersuk.org/fairerforcarers

 

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