The Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rt. Hon. Jeremy Hunt MP, today unveiled the Government’s Autumn Budget.
Carers UK welcomes the Government’s announcement that benefit payments will be uprated in line with inflation next year, meaning Carer’s Allowance and other benefits will rise by 10.1% from April 2023. This is something we and others have been calling for the Government to commit to for a number of months and will be a relief to thousands of carers. We also welcome the announcement of further cost of living payments to support families on means tested benefits, the extension of the Household Support Fund, and the additional support that will be provided to pensioners, as these will help significant numbers of people with caring responsibilities manage the current cost of living crisis.
However, the lack of targeted financial support for carers who are solely in receipt of Carer’s Allowance ahead of this winter is deeply disappointing. We had urged Government to provide Carer’s Allowance recipients with a £500 one off payment to help them through the coming Winter, as well as rises to the earnings limit for Carer’s Allowance, to ensure carers who are able to work part time could work for more hours. Our evidence shows that two in five of those in receipt of Carer’s Allowance are already in debt because of their caring role. This must be urgently rectified by Government before next Spring when benefit upratings will take place – especially given the additional increases to the National Living Wage announced today.
Regarding social care whilst we’re looking at the detail, the additional funding announced by the Chancellor, looks like it will help to deliver an increase in the number of social care packages which will help to ease the pressures that families are facing ahead of this Winter. We also welcome the additional money announced for the Better Care Fund to support hospital discharge as our State of Caring 2022 survey found unpaid carers short of services, and support which was having devastating impacts on their health and wellbeing. However, we remain concerned about the long term sustainable funding for social care. This still needs to be tackled since the funding falls short of what the social care system and families desperately need.
Helen Walker, Chief Executive of Carers UK said:
“We’re relieved that benefits are being uprated with inflation but this doesn’t tackle the long lasting and systemic issues with the level of Carer’s Allowance which remains the lowest benefit of its kind, despite carers providing 35 hours of care. We need an urgent review of the benefit to ensure that carers don’t experience the kinds of poverty and financial hardship that we’ve seen even before the cost of living crisis.
“Whilst the extra funding for social care is welcome and will help with some of the pressure points in social care, it still falls short of what we really need to give carers the breaks and support they need – 40% of carers have not had a break in the last year. Long term sustainable funding of social care must remain an urgent priority for Government, to provide a decent life for people needing care, to prevent carers from having to give up work in order to care and to stop their health and wellbeing from deteriorating.”