I absolutely recognise the valuable contribution made by carers of all kinds - residential, domiciliary, paid, unpaid - many of whom spend a significant proportion of their life providing support for others. Indeed, a tenth of adults in the UK provide unpaid care for a friend or family member, and these people should be appreciated for the invaluable work they do.
Having cared for both my parents, I completely agree that carers must receive the right support to help them carry out their caring roles.
The Government’s Social Care White Paper outlined a number of measures to support carers including up to £25 million to kick start a change in the services provided to support unpaid carers. The Carer’s Leave Act has also been introduced to give unpaid carers the right to take unpaid leave from work to care for older, disabled or seriously ill relatives.
Local authorities are required to undertake a Carer's Assessment for carers who require support. This may include recording a career's needs and the impact of providing care. Local authorities have a legal duty to meet a carer's needs if these are assessed as being eligible for support.
Going forward, NHS England at a national level and Integrated Care Boards at a local level will have a duty to involve carers when care is being commissioned for their loved one and, in 2023/24, £327 million of Better Care Fund funding has been earmarked to provide short breaks and respite services for carers, as well as additional advice and support.
The primary purpose of Carer's Allowance is to provide a measure of financial support for people who give up the opportunity of full-time employment in order to care for a severely disabled person. It must be stressed that it is not a carer’s wage or payment for the services of caring, nor is it intended to replace lost or forgone earnings in their entirety.
I greatly sympathise with the challenges that many carers are facing with the cost of living. The Carer’s Allowance was increased earlier this year by 10.1 per cent, in line with inflation, from £69.70 to £76.75 per week. However, there are no plans to increase the rate of Carer’s Allowance further at this point.
I would encourage carers to check their eligibility for additional support, such as Universal Credit. Universal Credit can include an additional amount for carers who provide care of 35 hours or more each week for a severely disabled person. For carers who satisfy the qualifying criteria, an additional amount of £185.86 per month is included in their Universal Credit entitlement.
The Government understands that people are worried about the cost of living challenges ahead and has announced further support for the next financial year designed to target the most vulnerable households. You can read more here.