Susanna Reid grills Boris Johnson on support for carers
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Many unpaid carers claim Carer’s Allowance, a benefit designed to help those with the living costs of looking after a vulnerable individual. Last week, the Chancellor Rishi Sunak rolled out a new wave of support packages to assist vulnerable households with the cost of living crisis. Inflation has recently hit nine percent and energy bills are expected to rise as high as £2,800 annually by October.
Among the support announced by Rishi Sunak was a one-off payment of £650 payment for those in receipt of means-tested benefits.
This includes Universal Credit, Pension Credit, Working Tax Credit, Child Tax Credit, Income Support and income-based Jobseekers’ Allowance.
However, to the detriment of many people who look after loved ones, Carer’s Allowance is not on Mr Sunak’s list.
This is because the benefit payment is not means-tested which therefore means those who claim it are ineligible for the £650 additional payment.
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In response to this omission, various charities and organisations are calling on the Government and Rishi Sunak to do more for “devastated” unpaid carers across the country.
Helen Walker, the chief executive of Carers UK, explained: “The announcement will bring some welcome comfort to carers who are on means-tested benefits and who are also pensioners as they’ve faced soaring costs, increasing the stress of caring for relatives and friends who are disabled, ill or older and need help.
“They have been struggling with decisions every day about whether to heat or eat and they’ve been terrified about what this will mean for them and their family.
“However, there are several hundred thousand carers who don’t receive means-tested benefits, but who are in receipt of Carer’s Allowance, the main carers’ benefit.
“They will be shocked and devastated to see that they won’t get any of the extra payments of £650 even though Carer’s Allowance is the lowest benefit of its kind at only £69.70 per week and won’t even get an extra £150 alongside people who are in receipt of disability benefits.”
The charity head noted previous examples of Carer’s Allowance recipients being left out of previous Government support which was introduced in response to the pandemic.
She added: “For months Carers UK and others have been drawing the Government’s attention to the extreme challenges that carers are facing with their finances, as well as the lack of financial support carers have received in their own right since the start of the pandemic.
“People in receipt of Carer’s Allowance were overlooked for the £20 a week additional payment that Universal Credit recipients received from March 2020 until last Autumn, meaning carers lost out on over £1000 a year for two years in a row.
“Carers in receipt of Carer’s Allowance have been contacting us at their wits end in recent months, with many telling us they are having to get further into debt, use food banks and credit cards, or cut back on heating and energy bills to ensure they can remain solvent.”
Last month, various benefit schemes administered by the DWP received a 3.1 percent increase in their payment rates.
As a result, those who claim Carer’s Allowance can now get £69.70 a week if they care for someone at least 35 hours a week who receives other benefits.
Claimants of this particular benefit payment can choose to be paid either weekly in advance or every four weeks.
By getting Carer’s Allowance, unpaid automatically get National Insurance credits for each week they receive a payment.
Those in need of support while looking after someone can apply for the payment via the gov.uk website.
It is unknown if the Government is likely to introduce targeted support for unpaid carers going forward.
Express.co.uk has reached out to the DWP for comment.
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