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Carers UK warns of tightening financial squeeze facing unpaid carers ahead of expected increase to energy price cap

On Friday 26th August 2022 Ofgem, the government regulator for the electricity and gas markets in Great Britain, is expected to announce another increase to the energy price cap.

The cap was raised earlier in the year, in April, by 54%, an increase of £693 per year for 22 million households. This Friday, Ofgem is expected to announce another increase to take effect from 1st October.

Unpaid carers are particularly vulnerable to all types of rising costs due to their limited ability to earn an income and due to costs that they cannot cut back on, without affecting the safety of the person they care for. Unpaid carers looking after older, disabled and seriously ill relatives are therefore extremely anxious about what it will mean for them. Carers UK’s Under Pressure: Caring and the cost of living crisis report, published in March 2022, found that:

  • 45% of carers said they were unable to afford their monthly expenses.
  • The number of carers worried about how they will manage their bills more than doubled from 21% to 55%.
  • 45% of carers were relying on their savings, 26% were using credit cards, and 14% were using bank overdrafts.
  • Nearly 6 out of 10 (58%) were cutting back on heating to manage their finances and 14% have already fallen into arrears with their utility bills.
  • 83% of carers were worried or extremely worried about how they will manage their monthly expenses if costs keep increasing.

For many carers, the impact of rising prices has got much worse since March.

Helen Walker, Chief Executive of Carers UK, said:

“We know that thousands of unpaid carers on lower incomes – especially those providing round the clock care – were already worried sick about the expected increases to energy costs back in March, and how they would manage. Things have got much more difficult since then.

“As it is, nearly half of carers are already unable to manage their monthly expenses - cutting back on essentials, using savings or taking out credit cards to keep the person their care for warm and healthy.

“Some have no way of meeting the rising costs and face extremely difficult decisions that are keeping them up at night.

“The Government must take urgent action for carers specifically, ensuring those in receipt of Carer’s Allowance are included in the extension of the Warm Home Discount scheme, and receive targeted financial support with energy bills. Those unpaid carers providing 35 hours or more of care each week also need the Government to address the rate of Carer’s Allowance, just £69.70 a week, which sees their limited support falling behind inflation.

“Without targeted support, too many carers and the people they care for will be pushed further into poverty, impacting their quality of life and that of the people they care for.”

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