Contact joins calls for Autumn Statement commitment to unpaid carer support

3 mins read

Thursday 16 November 2023

Contact and our partners in the Carer Poverty Coalition are calling on Chancellor Jeremy Hunt to urgently alleviate the financial hardship faced by unpaid carers across the UK.

While unpaid carers provide up to £162billion worth of care a year, they can less easily earn income and face additional care-related costs. Many carers can’t combine work and care. And it isn’t an option to turn the heating down or reduce spending on essential equipment.

The combination of low levels of welfare support system and the rising cost of living is causing financial hardship among carers of disabled children and adults.

What we’re calling for

On behalf of unpaid carers, we join the Carer Poverty Coalition in urging the UK Government to:

  • Reform the benefits system to better support carers, including increasing means-tested benefits relating to carers (e.g. Carer Element, Carer Premium and Carer Addition).
  • Ensure all social security benefits, including Carer’s Allowance and its associated premiums, are uprated by at least the rate of inflation when rates for 2024/25 are announced later this year.
  • Hold a full review into Carer’s Allowance and its eligibility rules, so that carers can continue to provide unpaid care whilst also being able to look after their own health, wellbeing and financial security.
  • Increase the level of Carer’s Allowance, so that it better reflects the level of financial penalty carers incur.
  • Raise the Earnings Limit for Carer’s Allowance and link this to future increases in the National Living Wage.

We also want to see more support for carers to work where they’re able to:

  • Long-term and sustainable funding of social care to support carers juggling paid work and care with appropriate breaks.
  • Specialist support for carers who have not been in paid employment for some time. This includes financial and practical support, work placements and confidence-building.
  • Changes to the eligibility criteria for certain carers’ benefits to enable more carers to combine paid work and unpaid care, to enable both more paid work and higher paid work for carers.

Targeted energy support for families

The Autumn Statement provides another opportunity for the Chancellor to commit to targeted energy support for families most in need.

Sky high energy bills and rationing energy hasn’t gone away. Households with seriously ill or disabled children are paying on average £1,596 extra a year to run vital equipment, even before the cost of keeping their homes warm this winter.

That’s why we are calling on the Chancellor to honour his pledge to consult on a social tariff to help disabled and older people with their energy bills.