Hampshire Liberal Democrat Councillors are calling on the County Council to ask the Government to raise Carer’s Allowance by £1,000 a year, to help support 18,861 unpaid carers in Hampshire during the coronavirus pandemic.
The party’s leader, Ed Davey, who has promised to “be the voice of the 9 million carers in our country”, previously wrote to the Prime Minister urging him to recognise the “challenges that have been made even harder by coronavirus.”
The Liberal Democrat proposals centre around increasing Carer’s Allowance from its current rate of £67.25 a week to £87.25, in line with the £20 a week uplift in Universal Credit announced at the start of the pandemic.
The latest government figures show that 12,924 unpaid carers in Hampshire currently receive Carer’s Allowance.
However, the Liberal Democrats are also calling for the 5,937 people who are entitled to Carer’s Allowance but do not receive it due to overlapping benefits – mostly older carers on low incomes – to be given the extra £20 a week as well.
Current Government Plans are only to raise the payment by 35p a week from April to £67.60/week.
Launching the campaign in November, Liberal Democrat Leader Ed Davey said:
“Unpaid carers face big challenges every single day; challenges that have been made even harder by coronavirus.
“Many carers are facing extreme financial hardship. They have been struggling for months, often relying on foodbanks to feed themselves and the people they care for.
“So Liberal Democrats are calling on the Government to support carers by raising Carer’s Allowance by £1,000 a year, now.”
Ahead of a debate on the issue at Thursday's County Council meeting, David Harrison, Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for Adult Services in Hampshire added:
“Unpaid carers in Hampshire are doing a remarkable and important job in very difficult circumstances.
“Our wonderful carers deserve our support, but they are too often forgotten or ignored.
“This Thursday, Hampshire Liberal Democrat Councillors will be asking the County Council to stand up for carers and lead the way to a more caring society.”
Local statistics on the number of claimants eligible for and receiving Carer’s Allowance in May 2020 are available from stat-xplore.dwp.gov.uk.
The motion being proposed by Liberal Democrat County Councillors on Thursday reads:
Stand Up for Carers
- Council notes that:
- Carers – paid and unpaid, young and old – do a remarkable and important job. They are an integral part of our Hampshire community. They deserve our support, but are far too often forgotten and ignored.
- Carers in Hampshire and across the country face big challenges every single day; challenges that have been made even harder by the Covid-19 pandemic. Most are having to spend more time looking after loved ones during the pandemic; most haven’t been able to take a single break since it started; and most are simply exhausted.
- Situations provoking care interventions can happen with little warning. Often those giving care have to reduce their working hours or give up work to juggle competing demands.
- The pressures on young carers can negatively impact on their experiences and outcomes in education, having a lasting effect on their life chances.
- Many carers are unaware of their entitlement to financial support, a carers assessment or break, and the support services available.
- Council further notes that:
- 12,924 full-time unpaid carers in Hampshire rely on Carer’s Allowance.
- At just £67.25 a week, Carer’s Allowance is the lowest benefit of its kind.
- In response to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Government increased the Universal Credit standard allowance and the Working Tax Credit basic element by £20 a week above the planned uprating in April 2020, but it has not increased Carer’s Allowance.
- Many unpaid carers are facing extreme financial hardship. A recent survey by Carers UK found that more than a third of those on Carer’s Allowance are struggling to make ends meet. Many have been struggling for months, often relying on foodbanks to feed themselves and the people they care for.
- The Carers UK survey found that “43% of carers felt that a rise in Carer’s Allowance would help them, given the financial pressures they are facing.”
- Council resolves that:
- We must stand up for carers, do more to support them, and build a more caring society as we emerge from the Covid-19 pandemic.
- We will review how carers in Hampshire are made aware of existing support that is available and to bring back any recommendations to Hampshire County Council.
- Promote Young Carers Action Day on March 16th 2021 as widely as possible on an annual basis, particularly to young carers and their families.
- Council calls on the Leader of the Council to:
- Write to the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, urging them to raise Carer’s Allowance by £20 a week immediately, in line with the increase in Universal Credit, and copy in our local MPs, asking for their support.