Record numbers of carers are missing out on vital financial support due to a lack of advice, according to research published today to coincide with national Carers Rights Day.
The research, carried out by Carers UK, shows the total of value of unclaimed Carer’s Allowance – the main benefit for those caring for older, seriously ill or disabled loved ones – has risen to over £1.1 billion as over 360,000 full-time carers miss out.
In a survey of over 3,500 carers, 42% said they had missed out on financial support as a result of a lack of advice and information. Almost six in 10 (57%) of those missed out for more than two years, resulting in the loss of thousands of pounds in income.
Whilst Carer’s Allowance remains the lowest benefit of its kind, at just £59.75 a week for carers caring for 35 hours a week or more, Carers UK says that it can help offset the loss of earnings and the extra costs of caring faced as well as providing National Insurance contributions towards the State Pension.
Helena Herklots, Chief Executive of Carers UK, said: “If you suddenly need to provide full-time care for an older, ill or disabled loved one your life can be turned upside-down. When their welfare is your top priority, looking after your own finances can easily fall by the wayside. If carers have been forced to give up work to care, just as the family face all the extra household and transport costs of caring – this can rapidly push carers into long-term debt and financial hardship.
“This financial pressure is all too often exacerbated by a lack of advice for carers leading to long delays in them accessing essential support like Carer’s Allowance. It is vital that anyone caring for a loved one seeks advice to check they are getting all the financial help and practical support they are entitled to.”
Carers Rights Day takes place each year with the aim of raising awareness among unpaid carers of their entitlements to financial and practical support and their rights in the workplace if they combine work and caring.