Petition Increase Carers Allowance to equal 35hrs at National Minimum Wage
Carers Allowance is currently £269 per month for 35 hours a week, which works out at roughly £1.92 per hour. National Minimum Wage for 18 year olds is currently £6.56 per hour. Carers Allowance is a taxable benefit and treated as a wage by the DWP.
Each carer saves the economy roughly 19k a year (https://www.carersuk.org/news-and-campaigns/press-releases/facts-and-figures) but receives a wage of £3238 per year. Caring is not normally a 35 hour a week job and some are caring for multiple family members with the increased costs associated with disabilities. Anybody could become a carer at any time of life, just as anybody could become disabled. Accidents and illnesses happen.
For govt info see https://www.gov.uk/carers-allowance
This response was given on 22 April 2021
Carer’s Allowance is a benefit that provides some financial recognition that a carer may not be able to work full-time. It is part of a range of support based on individual needs, rather than a wage.
This Government recognises the very important role that unpaid and family carers make in providing significant care and continuity of support to family and friends, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. During the pandemic, unpaid carers have played a vital role in helping to support the most vulnerable. This is why we have made sure unpaid carers are considered in the development of policies throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and that they have been prioritised for a range of support.
It is important to emphasise that Carer’s Allowance is not intended to be a replacement for a wage nor payment for the services of caring and is therefore not comparable with either the National Minimum Wage or the National Living Wage. The principal purpose of Carer's Allowance is to provide a measure of financial support and recognition for people who choose to give up the opportunity of full-time work to provide regular care for a severely disabled person.
Unpaid carers are overwhelmingly caring for a family member or friend, rather than someone unknown to them. The amount of unpaid caring they undertake, and its intensity, will differ from carer to carer, as will their reasons and motivation for accepting caring responsibilities. Many can successfully combine caring with some employment, so will continue to have income from paid employment. Those unpaid carers who do need financial support may be able to get help from the benefits system – and not only from Carer’s Allowance, but from a range of means-tested benefits as well.
Carers on low incomes can claim income-related benefits, such as Universal Credit, alongside Carer’s Allowance. Universal Credit can be paid to carers at a higher rate than those without caring responsibilities through the carer element. In April 2021, the Universal Credit carer element increased to £163.73 per monthly assessment period. Between the existing carer-specific support, and the temporary COVID-19 uplift, around 315,000 carer households receiving Universal Credit benefitted from up to an extra £2,990 during the 20/21 financial year.
This year the Government will pay around £3.2 billion in Carer’s Allowance and by 2025-26 this will rise to £4 billion in real terms, more than doubling from £1.9 billion in 2010/11.
A National Insurance Class 1 credit is generally awarded for each week that Carer’s Allowance is paid to a working-age carer. Class 1 credits can help towards the conditions of entitlement to all contributory benefits, as well as the new State Pension. Receipt of Carer’s Allowance also exempts the carer from the benefit cap.
Carer’s Allowance permits carers to undertake some part-time work if they can do so, without this affecting their entitlement. The earnings limit recognises the benefits of staying in touch with the workplace, including greater financial independence and social interaction.
To better support those carers able to combine some paid work with their caring duties, the 2019 Conservative manifesto committed to introducing an entitlement to leave for unpaid carers, the majority of whom are women.
A consultation on Carer’s Leave ran from March to August 2020, setting out detailed policy proposals to create new employment right for one week’s unpaid leave. The consultation received a significant number of responses, demonstrating the importance of this area. The Government response will be published by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) in due course.
Department for Work and Pensions
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