The Carers UK campaign, Caring for Carers, just got the attention it needed as top politicians are calling for an urgent debate to discuss and immediate extra aid for carers. Nearly 60 MPs from all three main political parties have signed a Commons motion calling for extra aid for carers.
Dr Hywel Francis, Labour MP who chairs the All Party Parliamentary Group on Carers, said:
“Carers need to be treated with more dignity and respect.”
Tory MP Peter Bottomley added:
“I’m glad The Mirror is campaigning.”
In the National Strategy for Carers the government pledged that, by 2018 ‘carers will be supported so that they are not forced into financial hardship by their caring role.’
Carers cannot wait another 9 years, that is why Carers UK is asking for your help, head over to the Carers Poverty Charter page and complete the form to show your support to the campaign.
Carers UK’s poverty charter is backed by Alzheimer’s Society, Citizens Advice, Contact a Family, Counsel and Care, Crossroads Caring for Carers, Every Disabled Child Matters, for dementia, Mencap, Macmillan Cancer, Motor Neurone Disease Society, National Autistic Society, Oxfam, Parkinson’s Disease Society, Princess Royal Trust for Carers, Rethink, USDAW and Vitalise.
It is estimated that a total of 6 million people in the UK – 10% percent of the population – is looking after sick or elderly relatives and friends. As Carers, these people save the country an incredible sum of £87 billion a year and yet still many of these people are struggling to afford the basic everyday living costs.
With that in mind, The Daily Mirror and Carers UK are launching a campaign to improve the lives of Britain’s carers. On Sunday 11th October, the Daily Mirror joined forces with Carers UK to call for an immediate review of carers’ benefits. Carers UK chief executive Imelda Redmond said:
“The whole issue of allowances is an absolute disgrace. It is not properly recognised how people have to give up their jobs and look after sick and disabled relatives.”
The current Carers Allowance or main benefit for carers, is the lowest of its kind and many carers are not even aware they are entitled to such benefit. Payments are way below the national minimum wage. Carers are currently paid just £53.10 a week which in a minimum of 35 hours’ caring works out at £1.52 per hour when the government minimum wage is £5.80 per hour.
But the benefit is denied to carers if they care for fewer than 35 hours a week, if they receive a state pension, if they earn more than £95.0 a week after tax or if they are full-time students.
The campaign first launched by Carers UK has already won the backing of over 200 organisations including the Daily Mirror.
The campaign’s demands the Government to:
1. Protect carers from falling into poverty or financial hardship.
2. Reflect carers’ different circumstances.
3. Help carers to combine caring with paid work and study.
4. Be easy to understand and straightforward to claim.
What are your views on the current legislation on benefits for carers? Do you think the government is right to assume family should look after their relatives for less than people not working and claiming Job Seekers Allowance, which currently stands at £64.30 for over 25 year olds? Write your comments in the box below.