The Government has increased the allowance given to unpaid carers by 1p an hour
The UK’s allowance for unpaid carers is set to be increased by 1p per hour this year in a move that has been called “insulting” by those in the caring community.
People caring for older, disabled or very ill relatives throughout the Covid-19 pandemic have once again been left short of financial support.
The Carer’s Allowance, which goes to those who are spending 35 hours a week or more caring for someone, is due to be increased by 35p a week on 12 April, 2021, in line with inflation. That amounts to an increase of 1p per hour and 5p per day.
Carer Christie Michael said the 35p increase is “quite insulting” and “perplexing”, speaking to Sky News this morning.
Recent research by Carers UK, alongside the Universities of Sheffield and Birmingham, found that 100,000 unpaid carers had to rely on foodbanks at some point during the first lockdown.
Many people are still struggling to make ends meet as they dedicate so many hours to caring responsibilities during their week, leaving it very difficult for them to earn money through paid work.
It’s a struggle that has worsened during the pandemic because services such as day centres and support groups have had to close, leading many unpaid careers to either have to reduce their paid working hours or even give up their jobs completely.
Currently unpaid carers get a weekly allowance of £67.25, which will increase to £67.60 in April following the Government’s announcement.
Leader of the Liberal Democrat Party, Ed Davey, has said the move is “frankly an insult”.
He said: “People looking after loved ones during Covid are doing a remarkable job, in very difficult circumstances. They deserve much more support.
“Millions of unpaid carers have faced serious financial hardship during the pandemic, and the Government’s plan for an extra 5p a day is frankly an insult.”
The Liberal Democrat Party is calling on the government to increase the Carer’s Allowance by £1,000 a year immediately, in line with the uplift in Universal Credit.
“This awful virus has shown that Britain is a nation of carers, but it seems Ministers haven’t noticed,” Mr Davey added.
Carer Christie, from Waltham Abbey in Essex, told Sky News: “It’s actually quite insulting, and perplexing, considering how much unpaid carers save the Government yearly. It’s millions, if I’m correct, it could even be near the billions mark.
“Other people around the country get their pay rises – care workers, nurses, social care workers – and unpaid carers actually do very similar roles and responsibilities as they do and we’re going to be given 35p extra. It’s awful.”
Organisations such as Carers UK will not stop calling for the Carer’s Allowance to be raised. Today (Wednesday 3rd February 2021) the charity has delivered a letter signed by 5,000 people to Chancellor Rishi Sunak, calling on him to address the financial hardship carers are facing and increase the financial support for people entitled to Carer’s Allowance.
It is calling on the Chancellor to award a £20 a week supplement for carers entitled to Carer’s Allowance to match the increases awarded to those on Universal Credit.
Helen Walker, chief executive of Carers UK, said: “After everything carers have had to withstand during this pandemic, I know many will feel insulted that their Carer’s Allowance has increased by a paltry 35p a week.
“Unpaid carers are taking on more care than ever and have been struggling with the increased costs, yet they have received little targeted financial support to help them. They have been essential in protecting our health and social care systems during the pandemic – to the detriment of their own health.
“It can only be right that the Government gives back to carers. Without a significant uplift to Carer’s Allowance, many carers will continue to face hardship and suffering as they remain caring around the clock. The Government must act now to make Carer’s Allowance fairer for carers.”
Lucy Skoulding is a freelance reporter at Left Foot Forward. Follow her on Twitter.
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