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Carers UK reacts to Government response to Carer's Allowance overpayments

05 November 2019

The Work and Pensions Committee has today published the government’s response to its report on overpayments of Carer’s Allowance, the main benefit for people caring for more than 35 hours a week.

Carers UK has previously called for the Department of Work and Pensions to write off these overpayments where its own administrative delays have allowed them to accrue; this was also a recommendation made by the Work and Pensions Committee in its report. In its response the department does not commit to writing off overpayments or reviewing whether the majority of overpayments should be pursued.

Carers UK also made a number of other recommendations such as: improving communications to carers about the rules for earnings with Carer’s Allowance, researching the impact of overpayments on carers, looking at the barriers that the earnings limit places on carers and, finally, aligning the earnings limit with the equivalent of 16 hours of the National Living Wage – to make the benefits system smoother and preventing carers from leaving work.

Commenting on the government's response, Emily Holzhausen OBE, Director of Policy and Public Affairs, said:

“Given that so many carers relying on Carer’s Allowance struggle financially, it is incredibly disappointing that the government has not considered writing off the overpayments caused by its own administrative delays.

"This will do nothing to reassure carers who continue to sit up at night worrying about debt that could affect their incomes for years to come. The assessment of the impact of overpayments will be essential.

“Carers describe the earnings threshold as a “nightmare” - complicated to work out and at risk of losing all support if they earn just £1 over the threshold. So we’re pleased that the department has taken up our recommendation of researching the challenges for carers trying to work within the earnings limit. This will help us understand how we ensure carers can keep their foot in the labour market.

“We’re glad the DWP has committed to improving its communications with carers in receipt of Carer’s Allowance. The department needs to go one step further and introduce simpler methods of tracking and reporting earnings.”

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