Carers ‘facing £200 cut to income’ after being left out of Rishi Sunak’s cost of living package

Exclusive: Real-terms hit to allowances for carers totals £193m a year, say Liberal Democrats

Andrew Woodcock
Political Editor
Friday 27 May 2022 20:44
Comments
<p>Lib Dem leader Sir Ed Davey</p>

Lib Dem leader Sir Ed Davey

Britain’s one million unpaid carers are facing a real-terms cut to their income of more than £200 after being excluded from Rishi Sunak’s cost of living package, the Liberal Democrats have warned.

With the carer’s allowance increasing by just 3.1 per cent from £67.60 a week to £69.70, rocketing inflation means claimants are taking a combined hit of £193m this year, after inflation of 9 per cent is taken into account, the party said.

There was dismay on Thursday when it emerged that a one-off payment of £650 to help benefit claimants with living costs was going to recipients of universal credit, tax credits and income support, but not those getting the carer’s allowance.

The Carers Trust charity said that the group had been “forgotten” by the government, despite having long faced a cost of living crisis due to the need to give up paid work to care for relatives or friends.

The Treasury said that significant numbers of carers would be receiving the £650 payment as claimants of means-tested benefits. And they said those who live with disabled or elderly relatives would also benefit from the one-off payments of £300 to pensioner households and £150 for those that include someone with a disability.

Lib Dem leader Sir Ed Davey accused Mr Sunak of treating people who care for loved ones at home with “utter disdain”.

He called on the chancellor to increase the allowance by £1,000 a year, bringing the weekly payment to almost £89.

New analysis by the Lib Dems found that the true annual value of the carer’s allowance is being cut by £207 this year, once soaring inflation is taken into account – a combined total of £193m.

Cost of living: how to get help

The cost of living crisis has touched every corner of the UK, pushing families to the brink with rising food and fuel prices. The Independent has asked experts to explain small ways you can stretch your money, including managing debt and obtaining items for free.

- If you need to access a food bank, find your local council’s website and then use the local authority’s site to locate your nearest centre.

- The Trussell Trust, which runs many foodbanks, has a similar tool.

- Citizens Advice provides free help to people in need. The organisation can help you find grants or benefits, or advise on rent, debt and budgeting.

- If you are experiencing feelings of distress and isolation, or are struggling to cope, The Samaritans offers support; you can speak to someone for free over the phone, in confidence, on 116 123 (UK and ROI), email jo@samaritans.org, or visit the Samaritans website to find details of your nearest branch.

“Rishi Sunak is treating family carers with utter disdain by refusing to offer them extra support,” said Mr Davey.

“Family carers are facing huge pressures right now as petrol prices, energy bills and food prices all go through the roof. They are playing a vital role caring for loved ones, but their only reward from this Conservative government is to see the carer’s allowance slashed by over £200 this year.

“It is typical of the Conservatives, who time and again have ignored the plight of family carers and treated them like dirt. The chancellor needs to make one more U-turn and give unpaid carers the extra support they deserve.

“Unlike this out-of-touch government, the Liberal Democrats will stand for carers with our calls to increase the carer’s allowance by £1,000 a year.”

Carers Trust chief executive officer Kirsty McHugh said she was “extremely disappointed to learn that unpaid carers have been shut out of additional support yet again”.

She added: “Unpaid carers on carer’s allowance, who were already experiencing acute financial hardship, have been forgotten yet again by the government, with only those on means-tested benefits like universal credit qualifying for the additional £650 payment.

“The UK government needs to urgently follow the example of the governments in Wales and Scotland. They have targeted unpaid carers who receive carer’s allowance there with extra financial support to recognise how their vital caring roles have all too often pushed them into financial hardship.”

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