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Usdaw signs up to a Carers UK open letter to the Chancellor calling for immediate and targeted financial support for unpaid carers

Date: 21 March 2022 Retail trade union Usdaw has joined with Carers UK and a range of like-minded organisations, challenging the Chancellor to deliver much needed support for the millions of people who provide care for elderly and disabled relatives and friends. New Carers UK research shows that carers are under unprecedented financial strain, due to the current cost of living crisis.
Unpaid carers often face additional costs associated with needing to keep those they care for safe, providing extra care, nutrition, and support and many face financial hardship as a consequence of their caring responsibilities. To better understand how carers are coping financially. Carers UK surveyed 3,300 carers and found that the financial pressure many are facing is now unsustainable:
  • 45% of unpaid carers are currently unable to manage their monthly expenses
  • 46% of the carers surveyed also feel the oncoming increases in energy bills will negatively affect their own physical and mental health or that of the person they care for.
  • Many said they were having to take difficult steps to manage their monthly expenses; 58% have cut back on heating and 14% have already fallen into arrears with their energy bills
  • Looking to the months ahead; 42% thought that they would not be able to heat their home to a safe level, and 32% are worried they will have to use a foodbank. 
Paddy Lillis – Usdaw General Secretary says: “We are pleased to add our support to Carers UK demands on the Chancellor to address the cost of living crisis carers are struggling with. The vast majority of care in the UK is provided by family and friends. Without their willingness and ability to provide the care they do, local authority social services and the NHS would collapse under the strain. So the Government owes them a great deal.
 
“Never has it been more important to recognise the vital role carers play and call for improvements to the support they receive. Over the last two years many thousands of working people have stepped in to fill the gap in care caused by the pandemic and thousands more have upped the amount of care they give. The time is right to again put the focus on carers and seek greater support for their role from the Government.
 
“All too often carers feel life is a pressure cooker of competing demands, with worries about money, time off work, their own health and that of the person they are caring for. The support carers received before the pandemic fell far short of what was needed. Now, with more people than ever providing care, the Government must act to recognise and properly reward their enormous contribution. We hope the Chancellor is listening.”
 
Usdaw and Carers UK are calling on the Government to:
  • Increase Carer’s Allowance and other benefits in line with current inflation predictions for April 2022. Carer’s Allowance is set to rise by only 3.1% in April 2022, while inflation (CPI) is expected to reach 7.25%.
  • Immediately extend the Warm Home Discount scheme to ensure that it includes carers. This is in recognition of the additional energy costs often faced by unpaid carers.
  • Increase the level of carers’ benefits including Carer’s Allowance so that it is no longer the lowest benefit of its kind.
  • Raise the earnings limit for those claiming Carer’s Allowance, so that it is at least equal to 16 hours work at the National Living Wage (and pegged to it in future).
  • Provide a Carer’s Allowance Supplement to all carers with an entitlement in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, as those in Scotland have received since 2018, so all carers across the UK receive the same level of support. 
Notes for editors:
 
Usdaw (Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers) is the UK's fifth biggest trade union with around 360,000 members. Most Usdaw members work in the retail sector, but the union also has many members in transport, distribution, food manufacturing, chemical industry and other trades.
 
Usdaw’s Supporting Parents and Carers campaign: https://www.usdaw.org.uk/Campaigns/Supporting-Parents-Carers
 
For Usdaw press releases visit: http://www.usdaw.org.uk/news and you can follow us on Twitter @UsdawUnion

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