Petition Increase Carer's Allowance to equal 35hrs at National Minimum Wage

As of April 2022 Carer's Allowance is £69.70 a week for at least 35 hours caring a week, which works out at roughly £1.99 p/h. National Minimum Wage for 18 year olds is currently £6.83 p/h.

We want Carer's Allowance to be increased to £239.05 a week, to reflect the work carers do.

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Almost half of those living in poverty are disabled or live with someone who is. Many carers are unable to work, or only able to work part time due to caring responsibilities. Carer's Allowance is treated as taxable income, and is also deducted from any other benefits you may receive.

Less than 20% of disabled people are born with a disability, and anyone could end up with a disability, or caring for someone with a disability.

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Government responded

This response was given on 20 September 2022

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.

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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 on a daily basis.

It is however, important to emphasise that Carer’s Allowance is not intended to be a replacement for a wage nor a 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. It has never been the role of the Government to pay people for the tasks they undertake, voluntarily, in the way that an employer would, and this Government has no plans to change that principle. Instead, successive Governments have supported carers through allowances and benefits as well as wider cross-government actions.

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 payment of the carer element. In April 2022, the Universal Credit carer element increased to £168.81 per month. Around 405,000 (Feb 22 data) carer households on Universal Credit can receive around an additional £2,000 a year through the carer element.

Real terms expenditure on Carer’s Allowance in 2022/23 is forecast to be £3.4bn and between 2022/23 and 2026/27 real terms expenditure on CA is forecast to increase by just over a third (around £1.2 billion). By 2026/27, the Government is forecast to spend just under £4.5 billion a year on Carer’s Allowance. 

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.

The Government consulted on proposals for a new entitlement to carer’s leave in 2020 and published its response in September 2021. This committed to introducing carer’s leave as a day 1 right. This will be available to all employees who are providing care for a dependant with a long-term care need. Eligible employees will be entitled to one week of unpaid leave per year, which will be available to take flexibly in individual or half days.

Department for Work and Pensions

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