Carers pushed into poverty after ‘insulting’ 4p an hour rise in allowance

Millions of carers are thousands of pounds worse off and struggling to keep up with rising costs after receiving an “insulting” 4p an hour increase in care allowance.

Family members who care for sick relatives more than 35 hours a week and receive state support have been pushed into poverty by rampant inflation.

Care allowance rose from £67.60 a week to £69.70 in April, an increase of just £2.10 a week, or 3.1 per cent, while general consumer prices are expected to rise 10 per cent this year. This equates to an increase of 4p an hour for those working eight hours a day, seven days a week.

Households unable to supplement their income with extra work are marginalized in the face of rising costs. Energy bills alone have increased by an average of £693 a year.

The average household expects their spending to increase by £252 a month, or £3,020 a year, according to a survey by LifeSearch, an insurance broker, and consultancy Center for Economics and Business Research. However, care homes typically consume more energy than average.

Christie Michael, 38, from Essex, who cares for her 79-year-old mother full-time, said the allowance increase was “insulting”.

“The nursing allowance is not even close to covering our costs. We live in poverty and I don’t know what to do about it. My mom has needed me to look after her full time and has since 2001,” she said.

Ms Michael said she could not afford to pay for outside carers who would enable her to get a job and was struggling with her own health issues.

“It’s a nightmare, things have gotten so bad. The stress is incredible. I had to start taking anxiety meds, it’s all too much. We cannot cope with the rising costs and live in poverty.

“The pocket money covers just about the basic necessities in a grocery store, but that’s about it. I’m going through daily bank statements at the moment to see where we can make cuts,” she said.

The 39-year-old said she had to use blackboards. According to Carers UK, a charity, one in four carers receiving care allowance were already using benefits before the cost of living crisis and 45 per cent were unable to meet their monthly expenses.

Ms Michael said she had fallen far behind on her bills but feared the worst was yet to come. “We are so scared and the future looks so bleak. And we know it will get worse in October when energy prices start to rise again,” she said.

Carers UK’s Helen Walker said below-par inflation increases were another blow to hard-pressed carers.

“Caring for someone can mean additional costs, such as For example, more electricity for special appliances, more heating to keep a frail or sick person warm, and the need to spend more on special foods. Almost half of caregivers believe rising energy costs will affect their health and the health of the person they care for,” she said.

“Thousands more will be pushed into poverty, which will have a profound impact on their finances and quality of life.”

A Department for Works and Pensions spokesman said: “We recognize the valuable role played by unpaid carers and are spending record amounts to support them financially, along with their health, well-being and job opportunities.

“Carer’s Allowance is paying £800 more a year compared to 2010 and families can get £2,000 a year through the carer’s element of Universal Credit.” Carers pushed into poverty after ‘insulting’ 4p an hour rise in allowance

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