Money Wellness
Illustration of a young woman caring for an older woman with dementia
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calendar icon24 Apr 2024

Government adviser quits over huge fines handed to unpaid carers

A dementia adviser to Rishi Sunak has quit over the government’s treatment of unpaid carers.

Johnny Timpson resigned after a Guardian investigation revealed tens of thousands of unpaid carers were being taken to court and handed huge fines, with some being pursued for only minor infringements of earnings rules.

What are the earnings rules for unpaid carers?

If you spend at least 35 hours a week looking after someone with a disability or an illness, you may be able to get carer’s allowance. It is currently worth £81.90 a week.

But to qualify you can’t earn more than £151 a week after tax and expenses.

‘Beyond the pale’

Timpson, who was part of Sunak’s dementia-friendly communities champion group and previously a disability ambassador with the Cabinet Office, described the approach of the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) in reclaiming benefits from carers and people with neurological disabilities who exceed the earnings limit as “beyond the pale”.

He accused the government of failing to live up to its own standards, saying:

“The DWP has its own vulnerable customer policy and practice and quite frankly it’s not following it.”

DWP ‘causing misery and despair’

The Guardian’s investigation into DWP’s treatment of carers found the government department was causing misery and despair.

In one case, a 92-year-old woman with advanced Parkinson’s was ordered to repay almost £7,000 in disability allowance after failing to report her circumstances had changed at a time when she was in the early stages of dementia. The DWP says it is currently reviewing the case.

Avatar of Rebecca Routledge

Rebecca Routledge

A qualified journalist for over 15 years with a background in financial services. Rebecca is Money Wellness’s consumer champion, helping you improve your financial wellbeing by providing information on everything from income maximisation to budgeting and saving tips.

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