Carers UK urges new Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to ensure unpaid carers get the financial support they desperately need
Rishi Sunak has today (25 October 2022) been declared leader of the Conservative Party and Prime Minister. Earlier in the year, as Chancellor, Rishi Sunak pledged to uprate benefits in line with inflation and Carers UK is urging him to keep to his pledge so that hard-pressed unpaid carers can better manage during the cost-of-living crisis.
Carers UK research released last week revealed that one in six (16%) carers are now in debt trying to make ends meet, rising to two in five (40%) of those receiving Carer’s Allowance – the main benefit for those caring 35 hours or more each week. A quarter of unpaid carers (25%) are having to cut back on food and heating to the detriment of their health.
Helen Walker, Chief Executive of Carers UK, said:
“We know that many carers providing round the clock care are at crisis point - bearing the brunt of exceptionally high inflation, including a rapid rise in the cost of food and energy and having to turn to food banks. Reducing their electricity and food consumption is just not an option for some, without putting the older or disabled person they support at risk.
“Carers receiving Carer’s Allowance cannot easily work or increase their hours due to the demanding nature of their caring commitments. They have not received any targeted support, despite saving the Government £193 billion a year during the pandemic. Without unpaid carers, our health and social care systems would not have been able to manage.
“It is essential that the new Prime Minister sticks to his previous pledge and uprates all carer benefits in line with inflation at the earliest opportunity. Carers UK is also calling for carers to receive a winter top up payment of at least £500, so that they have a better chance of managing and keeping themselves and their loved ones well in the short term. From his time as Chancellor, Rishi Sunak knows the huge challenges our social care system faces – and so it is vital that long-term investment in social care is delivered, to enable carers to take breaks and get back into the labour market if they wish to.
“Having forgone any meaningful support for so long, carers are now burnt out, exhausted, and their health and livelihoods are in jeopardy.”