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Carers UK responds to Work and Pensions Committee discussion on Carer's Allowance

Helen Walker, chief executive at Carers UK, said:

“Carers up and down the country will be deeply disappointed by the Minister’s message that Carer’s Allowance – the lowest benefit of its kind – will not be raised in line with other similar benefits and that there are no plans to change any of its inflexible and punitive eligibility criteria. While it’s useful to hear that research on Carer’s Allowance will be published ‘very shortly’, this comes several years since the research was completed.

“The Minister mentioned that the Department has learned from this research. This publication should therefore be accompanied by a clear plan from the Department on how it will reform and improve Carer’s Allowance to better support unpaid carers. We have been told that the benefit is under continual review but very little has changed over the years.

“Carers UK and the 130 organisations of the Carer Poverty Coalition have called for a full review and reform of Carer’s Allowance to urgently address the fact that many unpaid carers face vast financial struggles whilst providing vital care to those who are elderly, disabled, or have a long-term health condition.

“Whilst we welcome further scrutiny of this issue today, what we really need is a firm commitment for reform to ensure that unpaid carers are supported financially as well as being encouraged to continue with their studies and careers alongside their caring role.

“Thousands of unpaid carers have been unfairly pursued for Carer’s Allowance overpayments. We heard that DWP will consider writing to claimants after receiving overpayments alerts from HMRC. This will be too little too late for the 11,600 unpaid carers who have already amassed overpayments debts over £5,000, due to not being alerted much earlier by DWP. Higher overpayment debts need to be written off and far more urgency is needed from the Department in changing its systems to ensure that carers are not allowed to amass such huge debts in the first place.”

Posted: 1st May 2024