The national charity Carers UK, together with 50 other members of the Carer Poverty Coalition, is urging the Government to provide unpaid carers with more targeted financial support in the upcoming Autumn Statement.
The Carer Poverty Coalition was formed in February 2023 and comprises a mixture of local organisations and charities. It works to build awareness of carer poverty and advocate for policy change that adequately values, recognises and supports unpaid carers.
The joint letter calls on the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rt Hon Jeremy Hunt MP, to provide targeted financial help for carers who are struggling to make ends meet while caring for their disabled, ill, or older friends and family members.
There are at least 5.7 million unpaid carers in the UK. Many are unable to boost their income due to the difficulty of juggling caring responsibilities with paid work, as well as the strict earning limits associated with benefits like Carer’s Allowance.
Research by Carers UK, which leads the Carer Poverty Coalition, has shown that 30% of unpaid carers are struggling with cost-of-living pressures, rising to 75% of those who receive Carer’s Allowance. Over a third (34%) say they have had to cut back on essentials like food and heating.
To ensure that carers’ finances, health, and wellbeing are not further jeopardised, the Coalition is calling on the Government to take urgent action to support carers and their families:
- Reform the benefits system to better support carers, including raising the level of Carer’s Allowance and increasing the Earnings Limit
- Provide more support for older carers of State Pension Age, in the form of additional payments to support them with their unpaid caring role
- Scrap the 21-hour rule across the UK, so that carers can study alongside caring
- Set out measures for long-term, sustainable funding of social care, to support carers in juggling paid work and care
In addition to the open letter, the Carer Poverty Coalition is encouraging people to write to their local MP to ensure they are aware of the campaign and to ask them for support in putting pressure on the Government.