Contact joins calls for reform of Carer’s Allowance and action on overpayments

3 mins read

Thursday 9 May 2024

Tags: overpayments, carer support payment, disabled children, Parent Carers, carer's allowance

Contact is supporting a new petition calling for urgent reform of Carer’s Allowance to ensure it properly supports carers and puts an end to the devastating overpayments that many are facing.

As part of the Carer Poverty Coalition, we’ve joined forces with other carer charities to get as many signatures as possible. We need to get to 10,000 signatures for the government to respond and 100,000 to get a debate in parliament. Sign the petition today.

What is the overpayment issue?

Carer’s Allowance overpayments continue to make headlines in the media.

Eligibilty for Carer’s Allowance includes a maximum weekly earnings threshold of £151 a week. In some cases, carers have unknowlingly had their earnings rise above this limit, perhaps after a small pay rise. They’ve discovered the error only when years later the government has notified them that it will reclaim the full overpayment. By this stage the overpayment can amount to a significant sum.

New government data shows that it is attempting to claw back Carer’s Allowance overpayments from 156,000 unpaid carers. Around 11,600 of these carers have debts of over £5,000.

The experience of families with disabled children

We have heard from parents having to pay back money because they have gone over the threshold of the earnings limit by a few pence.

Other parents reported that when they contacted the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) to inform them of a change in circumstance, there was a backlog, with officials saying it could take eight weeks to update the system.

So despite doing everything correctly and notifying the department, carers are wrongly receiving their allowance. They will then have to pay this back.

Government failings

Last month a Work and Pensions select committee told a government minister to fix the system. It was highlighted that the DWP is sometimes not quick enough to intervene when recipients are being wrongly paid, leading to large sums owed back.

And a government adviser, Johnny Timpson, resigned in protest at the situation of Carer’s Allowance overpayments. He said a lack of progress on the overpayments issue, coupled with carers not receiving help during the pandemic and no progress made in fixing social care, had prompted his resignation.

Carer Support Payment in Scotland

In Scotland, Carer’s Allowance is being replaced by the Carer Support Payment. Carers are being moved over to the new payment gradually. New claimants in certain areas are receiving the replacement benefit first.

The system in Scotland is more generous. Families with disabled children in receipt of Carer’s Allowance or Carer’s Support Payment can expect a supplement next month.

The Carer’s Allowance Supplement of £288.60 will be paid to carers in Scotland in June and October of this year.