The Government has confirmed that the amount of certain benefit rates from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) will change and go up from April 11, 2022. The Carer’s Allowance payment rate rise has been confirmed to go up 3.1 percent to align in line with the increased Consumer Prices Index (CPI) figure from September.
This means this year’s rate of £67.60 will be increased to an estimated £69.70 per week for the 2022/23 tax year which is a rise of £2 per week.
Furthermore, the new earnings limit for Carer’s Allowance will also go up to align with inflation which Carers UK estimates could put it at between £128 to £132 per week.
This means unpaid carers in receipt of Carer’s Allowance will be able to earn more money without having their benefit payment deducted by the DWP.
However, Carers UK is sounding the alarm that under the new National Living Wage rate the working hours would fall to less than 14 hours per week if they want to still claim their allowance.
If someone earns even £1 over the earnings limit, they are at risk of losing access to all of their Carer’s Allowance.
Critics of Carer’s Allowance are calling for further changes to Carer’s Allowance to be implemented in order to address the underlying issues facing claimants of it.
Helen Walker, the Chief Executive of Carers UK, has urged the Government to invest more money into the DWP to support unpaid carers who have held up the economy over the last 21 months.
Ms Walker explained: “Carer’s Allowance still remains the lowest benefit of its kind for which carers need to provide at least 35 hours of care per week although we know that many provide round the clock care.
“They see it as insulting that the benefit rates are so low and especially since the care they provide is equivalent to £193billion for a year during the pandemic.
“Health and social care would have collapsed without unpaid carers’ support. What’s even more worrying is that despite this rise, carers have been telling us that their costs have increased during the pandemic.”
The care expert acknowledged her organisation’s study into the financial woes of unpaid carers during the pandemic, which exposed the hardship many are facing.
She added: “Our State of Caring 2021 survey found that one in five carers said they may not cope financially over the next 12 months, one in four may not have enough to cover monthly expenses.
“36 percent of carers say their finances have got worse during the pandemic and we know that as health and care services are stretched, carers have greater costs.
“We urgently need to see a rise in carers’ benefits that better recognises the support that carers provide. We cannot continue to value unpaid carers so little within society by keeping Carer’s Allowance as the lowest benefit of its kind.”
Ms Walker also referenced changes to the benefits system in Scotland, which include the introduction of Carer’s Allowance Supplement.
This is an additional benefit payment of £231.40 every six months, which has been doubled for the coming December payment to £462.80 due to the extra costs carers have been landed with during the pandemic.
Unlike other benefits which are managed by the DWP, Carer’s Allowance Supplement is administered by Social Security Scotland.
The care sector expert said: “Sadly, this leaves carers in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland even further behind. We’re asking the Government to do the right thing and recognise carers.”
The changes to Carer’s Allowance are set to take effect in April 2022.
In response, a Government spokesperson said: “We recognise the valuable role of unpaid carers – especially during the pandemic – and remain committed to helping them financially, along with their health, wellbeing and employment chances.
“Universal Credit includes a carer’s element worth more than £160 a month and since 2010 we have increased Carer’s Allowance, putting an additional £700 a year in carers’ pockets. Those in receipt of Carer’s Allowance may be entitled to other support, including benefits.”