On behalf of the Carer Poverty Coalition, Emily Holzhausen OBE, Director of Policy and Public Affairs at Carers UK, said:
“In a Spring Budget that focused so heavily on supporting people who are economically inactive to be in work, including measures for those with disabilities and long-term illnesses, the Government missed a clear opportunity to support unpaid carers looking after their relatives.
“Providing care limits carers’ ability to earn a full income and adds extra costs. The rate of poverty amongst unpaid carers has been increasing in recent years, exacerbated by the rising cost of living. The Chancellor has ignored the call of the Carer Poverty Coalition to reform carers’ benefits and remove barriers to paid work, measures which would help them stay out of poverty.
“Many carers who are not currently working want to be. There are nearly one million people receiving Carer’s Allowance, the main benefit for those providing 35 hours or more of care each week, and some of these work alongside. However, the harsh earnings threshold – which sees carers only able to work a maximum of 13 hours 20 minutes a week from April or otherwise lose the whole benefit - is forcing carers to work fewer hours in order to keep their Carer’s Allowance. It is also the lowest benefit of it’s kind, worth only £76.75 a week from April 2023 and urgently needs reform alongside means-tested carers’ benefits.
“The Government needs to urgently commission a review into Carer’s Allowance and its eligibility rules to ensure it supports carers to continue providing care, whilst also setting out a wider plan for enabling and supporting unpaid carers to participate in paid work.”