On Monday 11 April 2022, state benefits are being uprated to the new 2022/23 levels but are leaving unpaid carers’ benefits far behind the rate of living costs, meaning a real terms cut in income.
Carers receiving the main carers’ benefit, Carer’s Allowance, will be getting an increase of just £2.10 per week, based on inflation rates of only 3.1% set last year when the real rate of inflation could now be as high as nearly 8% in April. This represents a real terms cut in benefits as inflation outstrips the levels of uprating.
Carer’s Allowance will rise from £67.60 a week to £69.70, whilst the earnings limit for those claiming the benefit will rise from £128 to £132 a week. As the National Living Wage (NLW) has also increased, it means that anyone employed on the NLW will see a real terms cut in the number of hours they are able to work and still keep their Carer’s Allowance. This will fall from a maximum 14.36 hours of work per week to only 13.89 hours a week to stay within the limit. If a carer goes over the earnings limit, they lose 100% of their Carer’s Allowance, a harsh penalty to pay.
For people caring for a severely disabled person for more than 35 hours a week, the carer element of Universal Credit will rise to £168.81 a month.
Carer’s Allowance is the lowest benefit of its kind and 35 hours of care need to be provided to a person with significant needs receiving the right level of disability benefits.
Helen Walker, Chief Executive of Carers UK, said:
“As the cost of living crisis piles on the stress and pressure to household finances across the UK, the below inflation increases to Carer’s Allowance and Universal Credit are yet another blow for hard pressed carers.
“Many carers have a reduced capacity to work because of their caring responsibilities or have had to give up work altogether. Despite the majority of carers having taken on more care during the pandemic, which has protected our health and care systems, they face a real terms cut in the level of financial support they receive. Carers do not deserve more hardship when they have done so much.
“Caring for someone can mean extra costs like having to use more electricity for special equipment, more heating to keep someone frail or unwell warm, and needing to spend more on special food. According to Carers UK’s recent research, Under Pressure, a quarter of carers receiving carer benefits were already using a foodbank.2 Today’s real-term cuts mean that many more will face challenging decisions about whether they heat their home or feed themselves.
“Once again the UK Government has failed to increase the Earnings Limit for Carer’s Allowance in line with rises in the National Living Wage meaning carers can now work just 13 hours a week and retain their entitlement to Carer’s Allowance. This is completely counter to the UK Government’s objective to make work pay. What we need urgently is a system that legislates for a year-on-year rise, in line with at least 16 times the National Living Wage along with significant increases to carers’ benefits.”