Local charity Carers in Bedfordshire is supporting Carers UK’s Fairer For Carers campaign. This launched today (Wednesday 10 February) and calls upon the Government to address the financial hardship faced by many unpaid carers.
Carers UK is calling for a £20 a week supplement to the Carer’s Allowance, which would help carers manage both the higher costs of caring and the lack of services available to help them stay in work. The Government has announced a 35p increase, in line with inflation (CPI), bringing the benefit to a total of £67.60 a week in April.
This, Carers UK claims, would match the increases awarded to those on Universal Credit. The campaign said over 480,000 carers with an entitlement to Carer’s Allowance have each lost out on close to £1000 of support since April 2020, compared to those on Universal Credit.
Carers in Bedfordshire head of operations, Harriet Opalinski, said:
“We are joining the campaign Fairer For Carers, as unpaid carers play a vital role in our society. We want to ensure carers are recognised for their huge contribution. The vast majority of care for the elderly, disabled or those who have a long term health condition, is provided by family and friends.
“Social services and the NHS rely on the millions of unpaid carers, as without it they would simply collapse. It’s been calculated by Carers UK the essential support they have provided is £530m, with each day of the pandemic that passes.
“The vast majority of the time, care is provided behind closed doors, in people’s homes and is largely invisible to the general public. We know many carers carry out more than 50 hours a week of unpaid care. The Government need to give back to carers who do so much for others, often at the expense of their own health and wellbeing.
“The pandemic has also had a powerful knock on effect for carers, who are facing closures of local services and reduced support from social care. So on top of being already frustrated, anxious or exhausted, the impact of coronavirus on carers’ lives is far-reaching, with many facing further difficulties.
“That’s where we step in to provide essential support. There are an estimated 40,000 carers across Bedfordshire and we currently provide health and wellbeing support to around a fifth of them. We aim to double this number over the next few years, as we campaign to encourage the thousands of carers to access our support.
“Many carers do not see themselves as carers, because they are just doing what they can for a relative or friend. But if that person couldn’t cope without your support, you are a carer and we encourage you to sign up to our services.”
For further information about carers in Bedfordshire or to sign up for support visit www.carersinbeds.org.uk and look out for the hashtag #FairerForCarers on social media.
Carers UK is asking people to write to their MP to join it in calling for Carer’s Allowance to be made #FairerForCarers.