Petition Increase Carer’s Allowance to equal 35 hours at 50% of the living wage.

To reform Carer’s Allowance to equal 35 hours at 50% of the National Living Wage. Minimum hours of care provided are 35 hours a week. The current rate is equivalent to £2.19 an hour (£76.75 week). Under the proposed rate this would be £182.36 a week.

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Currently you’re expected to provide at least 35 hours a week care so the allowance is equivalent to £2.10 an hour. We believe this is taking advantage of hard working unpaid carers, who sacrifice their own life and work prospects. Many carers are exhausted, and if we want to work there are strict limits on earnings. We believe carers are taken advantage of and under supported.

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Government responded

This response was given on 2 May 2024

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 £1500 a year. The weekly rate of Carer’s Allowance is £81.90 a week.

This issue has been raised in previous e-petitions, including 640062 ‘Increase Carer’s Allowance to 35 hours a week at the minimum wage’ which was recently debated in Parliament, a link to the transcript of this is available here: Carer’s Allowance - Hansard - UK Parliament (https://hansard.parliament.uk/commons/2024-04-22/debates/E43FCD87-1F1D-41F4-BE0D-948482756398/Carer%E2%80%99SAllowance).

It is important to emphasise that Carer’s Allowance is not intended to be a replacement for a wage, nor is it payment for the services of caring. It is, therefore, not comparable with either the National Minimum or National Living Wage. The principal purpose of Carer’s Allowance is to provide a measure of financial support and recognition who are not able to work full time due to 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.

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 £198.31 per monthly assessment period. The additional amount for carers in Pension Credit is £45.60 a week.

Around 650,000 (November 2023 data) carer households on Universal Credit can receive around an additional £2,400 a year through the Carer Element. The Government has chosen to focus extra support on those carers who need it most.

We are spending record amounts to support unpaid carers. Real terms expenditure on Carer’s Allowance in 2024/25 is forecast to be £4.1 billion.

Between 2024/25 and 2028/29 real terms expenditure on Carer’s Allowance is forecast to rise by 12% - around £500 million. By 2028/29, the Government is forecast to spend just over £4.5 billion a year on Carer’s Allowance.

The Government keeps the detailed Carer’s Allowance rules and arrangements under review to see whether the benefit is meeting its objectives. And the Department for Work and Pensions works very closely with other parts of Government, including the Department of Health and Social Care, to ensure that unpaid carers get the help and support they need and deserve.

Department for Work and Pensions

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MPs examine Carer's Allowance

A group of MPs called the House of Commons Work and Pensions Committee held an evidence session looking at Carer's Allowance on Wednesday 6 March.

At the evidence session, MPs questioned policy experts and also heard from a carer. The aim of this session was to explore claimants' experiences of receiving Carer's Allowance and consider how it could be modernised.

What is an evidence session?

An evidence session is when a group of MPs - called a committee - invite experts and people with experience of a certain issue to answer questions about it. This helps the committee understand more about the issue.

What is the Work and Pensions Committee?

The Work and Pensions Committee is a group of MPs from different political parties that look into the policies and spending of the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), including benefits for people in and out of work, state pensions and the regulation of private pensions. It also scrutinises DWP's public bodies and other regulators.

The Work and Pensions Committee is a select committee.
Find out how select committees work.

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Carer's Allowance petition debated in Parliament

MPs debated a petition about Carer's Allowance on Monday 22 April. The debate was opened by Christina Rees MP, a member of the Petitions Committee.

What is a petitions debate?

Petitions debates are 'general' debates in Westminster Hall, which allow MPs from all parties to discuss the important issues raised by one or more petitions, and put their concerns to Government Ministers.

Petition debates don’t end with a vote to implement the request of a petition. This means MPs didn't vote on the request of the petition at the end of the debate. Instead, the aim is to give MPs an opportunity to discuss the issues raised by a petition, and get a response from the Government. Petition debates are scheduled by the Petitions Committee.

Work and Pensions Committee investigates Carer's Allowance

The Work and Pensions Committee have held two 'evidence sessions' with experts and the Government Minister for Disabled People on the effectiveness of Carer’s Allowance and the support it provides for carers.

The Work and Pensions Committee is a cross-party group of MPs that look into the work of the Department for Work and Pensions. Find out more about the Committee.

An evidence session is an oral hearing where key stakeholders, such as Ministers or campaigners, answer questions on a particular topic. They help MPs on the committee to gain a deeper understanding of the topic.

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Sign up to the Your UK Parliament newsletter for the latest information on how to get involved and make a difference.

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