Martin Lewis on carer's allowance and the effect on pensions
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Carer’s Allowance is a benefit provided by the Department for Work and Pensioners (DWP) to unpaid carers in the UK. Earlier this week, Labour MP, Kevan Jones, asked the DWP if it had plans to “reduce the number of hours carers must undertake their care work in order to be eligible for Carer’s Allowance”. However, the Minister for Disabled People, Claire Coutinho, stated that there are “no plans” to change the eligibility conditions for the benefit.
In a written response, Ms Coutinho, said: “There are no plans to change the eligibility conditions for Carer’s Allowance with respect to the number of hours that care is provided for.”
People who claim Carer’s Allowance could receive £69.70 per week which equates to £278.80 each month or over £3,000 every year.
For some years, Carer’s Allowance has been subject to criticism from politicians, policy researchers, and recipients of the benefit.
The level of financial help provided by Carer’s Allowance is often condemned when compared with other “income replacement” benefits.
People are also critical of the fact that Carers Allowance cannot be paid in addition to certain other state benefits, including the state pension.
Attention is also drawn to the problems faced by people seeking to study or do paid work while claiming Carers Allowance, and the strict criteria a person must meet in order to claim.
Earlier this year, the DWP responded to a petition calling for Carer’s Allowance to increase to £239.05 a week “to reflect the work carers do”.
Set up and posted by Emma Roberts on the petitions-parliament website, the increase to £239.05 a week would match the minimum wage an 18-year-old receives and would give them an income of above £12,000 a year.
At the time of writing, the petition has over 31,000 signatures, however, it will need to reach 100,000 signatures to have it considered for debate in parliament.
The petition, which closes on December 8, 2022, can be viewed on the petitions-parliament website.
People can only be eligible to claim Carer’s Allowance if they look after someone for more than 35 hours a week and earn less than £132 a week after tax.
People also need to be aged 16 or over and not be in full-time education.
Britons can only claim the allowance if the person they care for claims one of the “qualifying benefits”.
These include Attendance Allowance, Constant Attendance Allowance, Disability Living Allowance, Personal Independence Payment (PIP), or Armed Forces Independence Payment.
If a person shares the caring duties with someone else, only one of them can claim Carer’s Allowance.
People can also only claim Carer’s Allowance once, even if they are providing care for multiple people.
Under the rules, caring for someone includes tasks such as helping with washing and cooking, taking the person being cared for to a doctor’s appointment or helping with household tasks, like managing bills and shopping.
Due to the requirement to care for someone for 35 hours a week, it often means that carers are unable to get full-time work and can only work part-time in the majority of circumstances.
In its description, the petition said: “Almost half of those living in poverty are disabled or live with someone who is.
“Many carers are unable to work, or only able to work part-time due to caring responsibilities.
“Less than 20 percent of disabled people are born with a disability, and anyone could end up with a disability, or caring for someone with a disability.”
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