Over 10 million carers unable to get £301 cost of living payment

World News

Millions of people can expect to receive an important £301 payment from this week onwards, as part of the Government’s efforts to assist during the cost of living crisis. This will be the first instalment of a £900 total payout to eligible people on means-tested benefits.

However, for the millions of people who provide unpaid care, often for elderly friends and relatives, a devastating blow has been dealt.

Carer’s Allowance has been excluded from the list of qualifying benefits for the payment, meaning an estimated 10 million unpaid carers are excluded from this support.

This is a double blow, as new research from TakingCare Personal Alarms shows 80 percent of Britons believe Carer’s Allowance “isn’t enough” – with only 10 percent of those surveyed stating £50 to £100 per week would be enough. 

An expert at TakingCare Personal Alarms, said: “It can be so challenging for carers who may be looking after an elderly parent or relative, especially those who still have children at home or work commitments.

“The Government’s cost of living payment is means-tested, meaning most carers will be unable to benefit from the latest payment, worth £300, which is due between April and May.

“Given the current financial climate, it’s crucial for unpaid carers to understand what financial support is available to them, particularly in light of the cost of living crisis and rising inflation.”

The Department of Work and Pensions started to distribute the second instalment of its means-tested £900 cost of living payment from yesterday, but millions of unpaid carers will miss out as they don’t qualify.

Anyone over 16 who cares for someone for at least 35 hours per week is eligible to claim Carer’s Allowance.

The person being cared for must also receive one of the following means-tested benefits:

  • PIP – daily living component
  • Disability Living Allowance (DLA) – the middle or highest care rate
  • Attendance Allowance
  • Constant Attendance Allowance at or above the normal maximum rate with an Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit
  • Constant Attendance Allowance at the basic (full day) rate with a War Disablement Pension
  • Armed Forces Independence Payment
  • Child Disability Payment – the middle or highest care rate
  • Adult Disability Payment – daily living component.

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However, Britons should also be aware of the potential pitfalls of receipt of the cost of living payments, if they are eligible to receive one.

Sarah Coles, head of personal finance at Hargreaves Lansdown, suggested there are four potential pitfalls to look out for.

First, Britons are urged to stay alert as they could fall prey to a scammer.

Ms Coles explained: “Unfortunately, each time these payments are sent out, scammers will use the opportunity to pounce on unsuspecting victims. If you haven’t had one before, you may not know you get these payments automatically. 

“It means when scammers get in touch, pretending to be from DWP and asking for your bank details in order to make payments, there’s a risk you believe them. 

“The Government has made it very clear that it won’t be contacting people, and it won’t ask for any details, so anything you get along these lines is a scam.”

Some people may not know they are eligible for the benefits which open the door to these vital cost of living payments. As a result, Ms Coles urged people to check whether they are entitled to benefits by using the calculator on the Government website.

Some individuals may not qualify for the cost of living payment, like those in receipt of Carer’s Allowance as aforementioned.

The qualifying benefits are as follows:

  • Universal Credit
  • Pension Credit
  • Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
  • Income Support
  • Working Tax Credit
  • Child Tax Credit.

Ms Coles continued: “Perhaps the most difficult issue to wrestle with is that to be entitled to the payment you needed to be eligible for one of these seven benefits between January 26 and February 25. But if your award was reduced to zero for this period, you won’t get anything. 

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“This may be because you were sanctioned, you may have received two wage packets during the period, or your wages or savings may have gone up briefly at this point. 

“Whenever the Government sets rules like this, there will be some people who fall out at the margins, but when you’re in this position it can feel horribly cruel.”

Finally, while £301 is likely to be welcome, it may not get Britons out of a financial hole, with the expert describing it as a “drop in the ocean” for some.

Ms Coles stressed those who are struggling should check to see what other support they might be eligible for, such as energy bill grants, the Household Support Scheme, and ‘social tariff’ broadband – which is often cheaper.

There will also be a £150 payment in the summer for eligible people with a disability, and a £300 top up to the Winter Fuel Payment for pensioners at the end of the year. 

A Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) spokesperson told Express.co.uk: “We recognise the huge value of unpaid carers in the lives of their family and friends and we remain committed to helping them financially. Universal Credit includes a carer element worth more than £2,000 a year, and since 2010 we have increased Carer’s Allowance by nearly 40 percent, putting just under an additional £1,200 a year in carers’ pockets.

“Nearly 60 percent of working age carers on low incomes and Carer’s Allowance are also eligible for our means-tested Cost of Living Payment, which is being paid to more than eight million households.”

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