Carer's Allowance

Department for Work and Pensions written question – answered on 6th July 2020.

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Photo of Baroness Lister of Burtersett Baroness Lister of Burtersett Labour

To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the report by Carers UK and the Universities of Sheffield and Birmingham Caring and COVID-19: hunger and mental well-being, published on 17 June, in particular the finding that unpaid carers are twice as likely to have used foodbanks as the general population during the pandemic; and in the light of that finding, what plans they have to increase the rate of Carer’s Allowance on a (1) temporary, and (2) permanent basis.

Photo of Baroness Stedman-Scott Baroness Stedman-Scott The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions

The Government appreciates the support that Carers UK, and other carers organisations offer to unpaid carers who provide such vital support to some of the most vulnerable people in society, including pensioners and those with disabilities.

For those who find themselves in severe financial difficulties, the Prime Minister has announced over £60 million for local authorities in England to support local welfare assistance programmes. In addition, on 8 May, the Government announced funding of up to £16 million for charities to provide millions of meals over a 12-week period; this includes the £3.5 million Food Charities Grant Fund to support charities with grants of up to £100,000 so they can continue to provide food to vulnerable people.

Unpaid carers in financial need are able to access the full range of Social Security benefits, which include Universal Credit and Pension Credit. Carer’s Allowance is also available to provide a measure of financial recognition for those who give up the opportunity of full-time work in order to provide regular and substantial care.

We continue to support those carers in most need through additional amounts (premiums) in means-tested benefits and have also announced increases to the standard allowance in Universal Credit. Meaning claimants will be up to £1040 better off this financial year, which some carers receiving Universal Credit will benefit from.

The rate of Carer’s Allowance was also increased in early April as part of the annual uprating process. Since 2010, the rate of Carer’s Allowance has increased from £53.90 to £67.25 a week, meaning nearly an additional £700 a year for carers. By 2024 – 25, spending on Carer’s Allowance is forecast to be £3.6 billion in real terms, almost doubling from £1.8 billion in 2010/11, meaning we would be helping almost twice as many carers.

During the current emergency we have focussed on ensuring carers do not inadvertently stop receiving Carer’s Allowance because of changes to patterns of care. This includes allowing emotional support to count towards the 35 hours of care being provided by the carer as well as relaxing the rules around breaks in care. These changes aim to support carers whose role has, in many cases, become harder due to the need to self-isolate or shield the person they care for.

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