Spring budget – an opportunity missed
Carer charities have reacted angrily to yesterday’s Spring Budget, unveiled by the Rt Hon. Jeremey Hunt MP.
Despite unpaid carers facing increasing financial challenges, many going without food or heating in a desperate attempt to cut costs, the Budget has yet again omitted targeted financial support for carers.
Unpaid carers are more impacted by the cost of living crisis, as not only are they lower income households, working less or not at all because of caring, but they often have higher costs, for example needing more energy to keep houses warm, or to buy additional equipment.
Crucially, there was no mention of funding for social care, which is in dire need of increased support, and whose failings are so adversely affecting carers’ lives.
Return to work
And many unpaid carers would like to return to work, in some way, but there was no mention of the UK’s currently inactive 1.1 million carers, in the newly announced ‘Returnerships’ programme, announced for over 50 retirees.
Changes to childcare will help some families, and the extended cap on household energy bills, as well as frozen fuel duty, will help to some degree, but what carer households need is a package of support focused on their unique challenges.
Carer Poverty Coalition
We are part of the national Carer Poverty Coalition, and on behalf of the Coalition, Emily Holzhausen OBE, Director of Policy and Public Affairs at Carers UK, made this response:
“In a Spring Budget that focused so heavily on supporting people who are economically inactive to be in work, including measures for those with disabilities and long-term illnesses, the Government missed a clear opportunity to support unpaid carers looking after their relatives.
“Providing care limits carers’ ability to earn a full income and adds extra costs. The rate of poverty amongst unpaid carers has been increasing in recent years, exacerbated by the rising cost of living. The Chancellor has ignored the call of the Carer Poverty Coalition to reform carers’ benefits and remove barriers to paid work, measures which would help them stay out of poverty.
“Many carers who are not currently working want to be. There are nearly one million people receiving Carer’s Allowance, the main benefit for those providing 35 hours or more of care each week, and some of these work alongside. However, the harsh earnings threshold – which sees carers only able to work a maximum of 13 hours 20 minutes a week from April or otherwise lose the whole benefit – is forcing carers to work fewer hours in order to keep their Carer’s Allowance. It is also the lowest benefit of it’s kind, worth only £76.75 a week from April 2023 and urgently needs reform alongside means-tested carers’ benefits.
“The Government needs to urgently commission a review into Carer’s Allowance and its eligibility rules to ensure it supports carers to continue providing care, whilst also setting out a wider plan for enabling and supporting unpaid carers to participate in paid work.”
Individual responses from the UK’s national carers charities
Read the press release from Carers UK
Read the press release from Carers Trust