Money Wellness
A carer offers support to an elderly woman walking with a stick
category icondebts
calendar icon23 Nov 2023

Struggling carers urged to seek debt help

To mark Carers’ Rights Day 2023 (Thursday 23 November), we’re calling on carers who are struggling financially to seek help.

Recent research from Carers UK found the problems carers are facing as a result of the cost-of-living crisis are being made worse by having their ability to earn restricted by carer’s allowance.

How does carer’s allowance work?

Eligible carers receive £76.75 a week for a minimum of 35 hours unpaid caring. This is equivalent to just £2.19 an hour.

If they have time, carers are allowed to earn up to £139 per week. But even this added to the carer’s allowance leaves them well below the national living wage (£6.16 an hour vs £10.42 an hour).

Carers who exceed the £139 a week limit by a single penny lose their entire carer’s allowance.

Desperate choices

The research by Carer’s UK found 75% of people getting carer’s allowance are struggling with cost-of-living pressures, with 46% being forced to cut back on essentials, including food and heating.

Alison from Manchester gave up her job as a speech and language therapist to care for her husband who has MS.

She said:

“I am regularly skipping meals. We have skipped lunch for the last nine months. Now I sometimes cook just for my husband, and I skip dinner. Sometimes I have cereal for dinner. Sometimes I have a jar of baby food. It is 95p and often reduced further. I can eat baby food for dinner to save money.”

Risk of more carers falling into poverty

Chief executive of Carers UK Helen Walker is calling for a rise in the carer’s allowance earnings threshold so that carers can boost their income through paid work.

She says carers also need additional financial support:

“Unpaid carers need a financial boost this winter to ensure they can survive the winter months, and we are calling on the government to provide additional and targeted financial support now or more unpaid carers are at risk of falling into poverty at the harshest time of year.”

Struggling to make ends meet?

If you’re a carer and you’re struggling to make ends meet, don’t feel like you have to battle on alone.

Read our guide on the financial support available to carers.

We also offer free and impartial advice and can help with:

Benefits and grants checks and budgeting help are all completely free and so is finding out your options. Some debt solutions are also free. For others, there’s a fee.

If you’re considering a debt solution, we’ll give you all the information you need so that you can think it over and come back to us if you want to go ahead.

You can access our help online or over the phone.

Find out more about our debt advice.

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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