Petition Increase Carer's Allowance to 35 hours a week at the minimum wage
We want the Government to increase the amount of Carer's Allowance to match pay for a full-time job.
Being an unpaid carer is a full-time job, and this should be reflected in the rate of Carer's Allowance.
Unpaid carers eligible for Carer's Allowance receive £76.75 a week to provide at least 35 hours of care to people in receipt of certain benefits. This is almost £300 less than someone earning the National Living Wage (age 23 or over) would be entitled to.
Many unpaid carers have to give up work to provide care, and being a carer can also have a significant impact on carers wellbeing and lifestyle. Providing appropriate financial support is the least the Government can do.
This response was given on 23 October 2023
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.
The Government fully recognises the invaluable contribution that unpaid and family carers make in providing significant care and continuity of support to their loved ones. Unpaid carers play a vital role in the lives of their family and friends - and since 2010 we have increased Carer’s Allowance by almost £1200 a year.
This issue has been raised in previous e-petitions:
• 617874 ‘Increase Carer’s Allowance to equal to 35hrs at National Minimum Wage’, responded to on 20 September 2022,
• 579692 ‘Increase Carer’s Allowance to 35hrs at National Minimum wage’, responded to on 22 April 2021,
• 300032 ‘Pay Carers an allowance equivalent to a fulltime job at National Living Wage’ responded to on 30 July 2020,
• 234864 ‘Pay Carers an allowance equivalent to a fulltime job at the National Living Wage’, responded to on 16 May 2019.
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. It 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 are not able to work full-time because of their caring responsibilities. Successive governments have supported carers through allowances and benefits, as well as wider cross-government actions, rather than paying people for tasks they undertake in the way an employer would.
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.
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.
Carers on low incomes can claim income-related benefits, such as Universal Credit, alongside Carer’s Allowance. These benefits can be paid to carers at a higher rate than those without caring responsibilities through the carer element and the additional amount for carers respectively. Currently, the Universal Credit carer element is £185.86 per monthly assessment period. The additional amount for carers in Pension Credit is £42.75 a week. Around 550,000 (May 2023 data) carer households on Universal Credit can receive around an additional £2,230 a year through the carer element. The Government has chosen to focus extra support on those carers who need it most.
The Government will pay around £3.4 billion in Carer’s Allowance in 2022/23. By 2027/28, the Government is forecast to spend just over £4.7 billion a year on Carer’s Allowance.
Department for Work and Pensions
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