DWP slammed as thousands left waiting over a month for Carer’s Allowance claim decision

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Martin Lewis on carer's allowance and the effect on pensions

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A Freedom of Information (FOI) request revealed that there was 30,688 people awaiting a decision on whether they would receive support in mid-June 2022 In June the average waiting time for a decision was 31 working days This is compared to early November 2021 which saw 17,453 people awaiting a decision when the average waiting time was 20 working days.

The Freedom of Information request, which was requested by PA news agency, showed the total number of Carer’s Allowance claimants awaiting a decision for each month from May 2020 to June 2022.

It also showed the average clearance time for a claim in working days for each month from November 2020 to June 2022.

The figures show that there is a growing backlog for people claiming Carer’s Allowance with the number of people waiting for a decision standing at 15,411 in May 2020.

The waiting times for those wanting to claim Carer’s Allowance peaked in February 2022 which had 43,933 people awaiting a decision.

The average waiting time at this period sat at 47 days.

The Government department stated that processing times have decreased since the peak as it has taken on new staff to deal with the claims.

It claimed that the amount of requests is nine percent over the forecasted amount for Carer’s Allowance that the Department expected since April 2022.

A DWP spokesperson said: “We recognise the valuable and vital contribution made by carers every day to support family and friends.

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“We are committed to ensuring carers receive the financial support they need and deserve as quickly as possible, which is why we are taking on new staff to reduce processing times for carer’s allowance.”

Kerry McCarthy, Labour MP for Bristol East highlighted the issue in Parliament last month where the Department reported that there was 39,071 awaiting a decision on their Carer’s Allowance.

The average waiting time for a decision here was 37 working days.

Ms McCarthy asked the question on behalf of a constituent who was waiting a long time for a decision and said that this “wasn’t an isolated case”.

She said: “We need to know why the number of unprocessed claims, and waiting times has rocketed in the past two years.”

Carer’s Allowance is worth £69.70 per week and can be claimed by those who care for someone at least 35 hours a week.

The data has caused anger with Shadow Work and Pension Secretary Jonathan Ashworth stating that the DWP needs to “get a grip” and “ensure people who need it get the support they are entitled to, without delay”.

Mr Ashworth said: “Long waiting times for essential benefits like Carer’s Allowance are unacceptable in a cost of living crisis.

“This is another example of backlog Britain presided over by the Conservatives.”

Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey, who is himself a carer for his son, also added to the conversation saying that the delays showed that carers were “too often an afterthought for government ministers”.

Charities have frequently called for reform of Carer’s Allowance as unpaid carers are “increasingly being plunged into poverty” as the allowance is not enough to cover the basic cost of living costs.

Joe Levenson, executive director of policy and external affairs, Carers Trust, said: “Delays processing applications for Carer’s Allowance represent yet another blow for unpaid carers, especially as those affected are likely to be new carers who will be in particular need of support.”

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