Carer’s Allowance: Unpaid carer unable to claim benefit slams ‘outrageous’ sum

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

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Britons know that the cost of living has not yet reached its height yet and with the Bank of England predicting inflation to hit 10 percent towards the end of the year, many are concerned about what their finances will be able to stretch to. Those who are carers are also increasingly concerned about the cost of living as Carer’s Allowance, a weekly payment which supports people who care for others, has only increased by just over £10 a week over the past decade – standing at £58.45 per week in 2012. 

Carina Andrews, 28, from Bristol is one of those people. She works part-time at a Carers support centre as well as caring for her dad who has Parkinson’s disease and her mum who suffers from both mental and physical disabilities.

Carina said that she “pretty much” full time as a carer for her parents however, she isn’t able to claim Carer’s Allowance as her mother already claims it.

She said: “Me and my mum used to tag-team with the care that we give my dad as I was younger but as my mum has gotten older, she’s not able to do as much as she used to. She still does what she can but I do a lot of the care now.”

Due to this rule, Carina cannot access any financial support for the care she provides.

She said: “I hate the question, how many hours do you spend caring a week, as on top of the physical care, when I’m not there, I’m at home ringing the occupational therapist and the physiotherapist or trying to call the council to see if we can get more support. It’s never-ending.

“It’s absolutely bonkers in my opinion, one person can’t be expected to provide the care that someone with Parkinson’s needs all on their own.”

Currently, Carina is increasingly worried about costs due to rising inflation as the entirety of her parent’s income is swallowed up.

Carina’s parents both receive PIP and her father receives Housing Benefit, as well as their pensions.

She said: “All of my dad’s money is used and my mum is always £100 short of payments every month. You cannot even notice Carer’s Allowance really. I help my mum and dad with the money from my job but I’ve got my house and bills to pay too.”

Due to the amount of time Carina spends caring for her parent, she is unable to work more hours at her part-time job.

However, she doesn’t feel like she could work more because this would mean that her parents would spend more time alone.

She said: “Most people with Parkinson’s die from a fall, and I worry so much about my dad as he is struggling with falls at the moment.

“We had to smash our back door open the other week as we couldn’t access the house and my dad had fallen over.

“It sounds dramatic but it’s something that could happen.”

Carina is angry that Carer’s Allowance stayed at the same rate and that the Government are getting away with not addressing it describing the £2.10 increase to £67.60 to £69.70 in April as “insulting” and “offensive”.

She said: “The Government is lucky that carers love who they are caring for, and they know that these carers are not going to just abandon their loved one.

“There’s not going to be protests, or resigning or anything like that. They’re playing on that, they’re saying that if we leave them to the bottom of the pile they will say, that’s fine! We won’t hear from them anyway.

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“They might not consciously do it but it’s obvious that they do it as unpaid carers save the Government and local councils so much money.”

Carina said she cannot think about what is going to happen in the next few months saying that “everything feels so unclear” so she is unable to make a plan of what she could do to try and ease things.

She said: “If the Carer’s Allowance doesn’t go up or the other benefits don’t go up, I don’t know what we can do? I don’t know what else we can cut from that, heating? Food? We are not people who have any luxuries anyway so I just don’t know what our options are.”

Carina explains if things stay the way they are then her only option is to move back home but this could affect her mental health.

She said: “When I go back to my flat, I still worry, but I can take my mind away from it if I have a shower or I can watch something to distract myself. If things continue I will have to go because our money can only stretch so far.”

Carina said that it would help a little bit if multiple people could claim the allowance when claiming for one person but what she believes is that the rate should be equivalent to a wage as the Government relies so heavily on unpaid carers.

She said: “The work I do is the work of a paid carer, and what the government pays out now is outrageous and does not respect or recognise the hard work carers do.

“They believed that throwing a couple of quid a week at us was enough? It doesn’t up our hourly pay? It does nothing as the price of a basic food shop has gone up by at least £20. I just don’t get what they are thinking.”

Carina said that her story is just one of thousands of people in the UK and she cannot understand why the Government are “not valuing” them at all.

She said: “It does make me really angry and we all really need to say as that’s how things change. When people shout and scream so they can be heard.”

Express.co.uk has contacted the Department for Work and Pensions asking for comment.

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