New analysis published by Carers UK from the Centre for Care, University of Sheffield has revealed that on average 12,000 people in the UK become unpaid carers every single day. This is based on data from 2010 to 2020 and equates to an estimated 84,000 Britons becoming carers each week. Benefit support offered by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) via benefits such as Carer’s Allowance, as well as other bodies, could relieve the extra costs that come from making this change.
Within the space of a year, over 4.3 million people in the country become unpaid carers for a loved one.
From these 4.3 million individuals, over 1.9 million people are in paid employment, 2.3 million new carers are women and two million are men.
Notably, around four million Britons stop being an unpaid carer each year often due to the expense of becoming one.
Both the DWP and Social Security Scotland offer carers various benefit payments which could see those struggling receive over £4,100 annually.
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What support is available for unpaid carers?
Carer’s Allowance is the primary benefit payment for unpaid carers and is administered by the DWP.
Those claiming this support are able to get £69.70 a week if they care for someone at least 35 hours a week, which comes to £3,624.40.
For someone to be eligible, the person being looked after will need to be in receipt of at least one of the qualifying disability benefit payments. Examples include the DWP’s Personal Independence Payment (PIP) and Attendance Allowance.
People do not get paid more Carer’s Allowance even if they look after more than one person.
On top of this, if another person cares for the same person as the claimant, only one is able to receive the DWP payment.
Anyone who claims Carer’s Allowance and lives in Scotland can also claim Carer’s Allowance Supplement on top of their DWP payment.
While Carer’s Allowance is administered by the UK Government department, the additional payment is managed by Social Security Scotland.
Carer’s Allowance Supplement is paid twice a year with each payment coming to £245.70 for each new instalment. This adds up to £491.40 every year.
Combined, someone in receipt of both Carer’s Allowance and Carer’s Allowance Supplement could get £4,115.80 annually.
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Unpaid carers are also able to boost their state pension entitlement via Carer’s Credit, a benefit for those who look after a loved one for at least 20 hours per week.
This support is a National Insurance credit that assists someone who has gaps in their National Insurance record.
A person may have gaps in their record if they stopped working for a period of time to start a family or care for something.
This could affect a carer’s retirement plans as the state pension is based on their National Insurance record.
Helen Walker, the chief executive of Carers UK, noted that the continuous increase in people becoming unpaid carers means that the support being offered is as vital as it ever has been.
Ms Walker explained: “With our ageing population and loved ones with disabilities living longer – coupled with an ever-greater focus on care being provided at home – it is no surprise that millions of people are taking on an unpaid caring role every year.
“Most carers would call themselves a loving partner, parent or child, and do not immediately identify their caring role – meaning many miss out on practical support as a result.
“Our research shows that 51 percent of carers took longer than a year to identify themselves as a carer – with some going on to care for many years – decades, even – without support.”