Opinion: Is Carer’s Allowance Fair? 

I don’t think so, no, that’s not quite right. I know that Carer’s Allowance isn’t fair! 

Carer’s allowance is a benefit paid to those who care for someone who needs care for a minimum of 35 hrs a week and receives certain benefits. The government provides you with £69.70 to provide that care, whatever it entails, for however long they need each day.  There’s no upper limit on that care, but there are a lot of further stipulations before you can even qualify to get Carer’s Allowance. Is Carer’s Allowance fair then?

It’s estimated there are 10.58 million people in the UK who are unpaid caregivers and the value of their care is estimated at £193 billion a year.  Unpaid caregivers save the government billions.

Only 1.3 million claim Carer’s Allowance, 921,000 received the benefit, and 386,000 have an underlying entitlement for it. That means millions either don’t claim it because they don’t qualify or choose to claim a higher benefit like Universal Credit with a carers premium. 

Or if you were like me, you lived off your savings until they ran out and claimed Carer’s Allowance to make ends meet (which of course they don’t) or you’ve made the decision to continue to work as you need to and pay for private carers because the level of benefits is too low.

You would think Carer’s Allowance would reflect the role of an unpaid caregiver.  That’s why we have Carer’s Allowance & for some it has a little prestige, an allowance specific to caregivers until you get into the detail. 

You would think this is a role that’s so valued that you’d want the caregiver to bring their best self to the role through training, support and remuneration. Nope, you don’t get any of that, you’re just an unpaid caregiver.  Despite all the rhetoric, and showmanship from government, charities etc this term doesn’t include the basic three R’s to any role.

Recognition.

Respect. 

Remuneration

Because you know what caring really involves don’t you? It’s not just washing & cooking, twiddling your thumbs at home!

You have so many roles as a caregiver, you’re a :-  

  • Housekeeper – washing, cooking, cleaning, laundry, hoovering etc
  • Physiotherapist – exercises & helps retain movement, prevent atrophy
  • Nurse – checking bloods level, diabetes, pressure sores, BP, temperature, catheter, administering injections etc 
  • Personal Care Assistant – helping with toileting, bathing, shampooing, dressing, grooming, oral care etc
  • Pharmacist – trying to give meds, organising med, making dosette box, hiding meds in food
  • Creative Chef – providing refreshments & coming up with ideas for food & drink to tempt someone not interested, too ill, or has swallowing difficulties to eat to maintain nutrients and stay hydrated
  • Clerical Assistant – deal with all correspondence,  organising appointments, completing forms, diarising important events, dealing with renewals (like insurance) etc
  • Emergency Responder – if anything goes wrong you get it repaired, you’re the first person there to deal with it, whatever it is like:- accompany them to the hospital or emergency doctor appointments
  • Accountant – managing bank accounts, paying bills, utilities, buying equipment, managing budgets, 
  • Benefit coordinator – applying for benefits, filling countless forms multiple times, appealing, querying, challenging decisions
  • Occupational therapist – using hoists, standing aids, fall cushion, transfer assist, or identifying equipment needs to make living easier & to help move someone safely
  • Counsellor -dealing with bursts of anger, depression, apathy, trying to encourage loved ones to remain positive
  • Activity coordinator -coping up with ideas to do each day to try to keep someone engaged in meaningful activity especially if they’re too ill to go out

……….and much more!

Do you know of any other position that is so multifaceted but the remuneration is only £69.70? With no sick pay, time off for illness, training, and having the correct equipment to do your job well! 

Carer’s Allowance is an Income Replacement

The government have gone to great lengths not to call this a carer’s wage, they refer to it as an income replacement benefit, “intended to provide a measure of income-maintenance for people unable to do full-time paid work because of their caring responsibilities”

Of course, you would care for your loved ones for free because you love them. But unfortunately, you’re not able to do this for free, you have rent/mortgage, you have bills etc. You may have children, a partner, and family members to care for as well and take care of financially. So, how is someone expected to live? You have to claim top-up benefits or claim Universal Credit where your Carer’s Allowance is clawed back. 

I am working!

I don’t want to claim a benefit because I’m not looking for work. I’m already at work. I am a full-time caregiver for mum.  Why isn’t Carer’s Allowance set at a sum like the minimum wage to take account of that?

If you value caregivers as you claim, why isn’t that recognised? You’re already telling me to care for a minimum of 35hrs a week, most people care for much longer on average 50hrs per week, much more than the average worker’s hours per week of 37.5hrs. You clap for me, you say we should value caregivers but you don’t!  I don’t want to claim benefits I have to!

Carer’s Allowance is Restrictive 

Carer’s allowance doesn’t give me any freedoms, doesn’t allow me to save for my future, doesn’t allow me to study enough to improve my skills, and doesn’t encourage me to get a well-paid part-time job if I feel I can work and care.

What do I mean by that?  Remember those stipulations I talked about earlier that you can only get Carer’s Allowances if your loved one has certain benefits and you meet certain stipulations.

Carer’s Allowance limits Study time/Education

You can’t be in full-time education or study for more than 21 hours a week.  A lot of caregivers are in the mid-years of their life and may want to retrain in order to improve their career prospects after their caring role ends.  Why can’t you study and care at the same time, your 35hrs per week can be anytime over the week, so why aren’t you allowed as adults to balance your caring role with studying. Why restrict it to just 21hrs a week!

Carer’s Allowance restricts Employment

You may wish to work but by God, do they make it difficult for you! You’re only allowed to work up until you receive earnings of £132 after tax, national insurance and expenses.

And at today’s minimum wage of £9.50, that means you can only work about 13.5 hrs before you exceed the Carer’s Allowance threshold. Who wants to hire someone for part-time work with such meagre hours, most ask for 16hrs a week. 

It is a disincentive for work. Or you give up and struggle juggling work with caring in order to earn enough to make ends meet.

Is Carer’s Allowance a Means of Suppression?

Maybe that’s its purpose because at the end of the day, the costs involved for a family member to care for somebody with a disability, who’s sick or vulnerable is extremely expensive if taken on by the state, 

But extremely cheap if taken on by a family member – £69.70. 

The reality is that this government doesn’t see you as a key worker. They see you as a cash cow. Because you save them so much money!

There is no other way to interpret the lack of movement towards a better future for those who in effect go into service to look after our loved ones.

Summary

When you look at Carer’s allowance in detail, you can see that in its current state it doesn’t work. Ask yourself – is carer’s allowance fair? In my opinion, it’s not! Carer’s Allowance isn’t fair.  What do you think?

If you like to sign the petition to increase Carer’s Allowance, click here

6 thoughts on “Opinion: Is Carer’s Allowance Fair? ”

    1. Yes, thanks Kate, I have signed it before, I’ll add a link to the post as well, totally forgot about it! Thanks for taking the time to leave a message!

  1. Carers allowance is certainly not worth the pay for what carers do.
    Before mum went into care home I had someone repeatedly tell me I am entitled to carers allowance, when I knew I wasn’t. But just to shut the person up and prove the point because he comes across as know it all sometimes, I emailed the place he recommended who helped them get carers allowance. And guess what? As I knew already, I wasn’t entitled to it because mum wasn’t on a particular level of DLA. Just like I knew already and regardless mum needed more care at this point to before, there was no way I was going to put mum through the who procedure for getting a higher amount of DLA for me to get carers allowance. I wasn’t going to put mum through the upset of the procedure and put her at risk of losing her DLA completely because they think she’s ok, as I had as a deaf person when I had to go through PIP because DLA was being moved over to PIP (unless you were a certain age) and lose it.
    I rather my my.mum had little DLA than nothing.

    1. Thanks, Liz, yes there is definitely a misunderstanding on the criteria. I did the same applied when we were not on the right level of benefit to succeed.

  2. I am 69 yrs old , I have cared for my 37 Yrs old son all of his life , he has severe learning disabilities , he needs 24 hr care ,. When I recieved the state pension I am not entitled to carers allowance , I has unable to work as my son has challenging behaviour so finding day care was very difficult so saving into a private pension was not possible my husband supported us in a very heavy manual job which eventually took its toll on his health. . He got very sick when he was 64 yrs old and I cared for him for 2 yrs before he died, at the same time I was careing for my mother who had severe dementia and eventually after 3 years careing it was recommended that she needed more care in a home which I had to agree to , we sold her small ex council house to pay the £1500 per week for her care . This all happend when I became eligible for the state pension so was not entitled to carers allowance .I am still careing for my son on my own now , I applied for underlying cares allowance which gives me an extra £31.20 per week so I am on a very low income , I am worn out from caring for all these years and when I brought this up with my MP I recieved a generic letterback saying it was a wage replacement payment ? I don’t know anyone can give up work for Carers allowance?? Carers week came and went but nothing will change as we are unheard , coffee mornings and carers meetings are fine if you can get there , while careing .. which is all I heard about in Carers week . Pensioner carers were ignored completely.

    1. I was gutted to read this, I will never understand why pensioner carers don’t receive the full carer’s allowance, increasing your age has no bearing on the level of care provided, and also why carer’s allowance isn’t increased pro-rata if you care for more than one person, clearly your expenses, time and health are going to significantly worsen. I’m sorry for your loss and the hardship you’ve endured because of this crappy system that does nothing to support carers. Thank you for sharing your story.

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